Wareham’s unified basketball team boasts winning record in first season
This year, for the first time ever, Wareham High School has a Unified Basketball Team. “Unified” teams refer to programs that form teams, which include athletes with intellectual (and sometimes physical) disabilities and partners, explained Coach Marissa Smith.
So far, the newly formed team has been “pretty amazing,” according to Smith. The inaugural team has six athletes and six partners; 12 players is a good starting size for the program, she said.
The team has a 3-1 record, and just over a week ago they triumphed over Old Rochester Regional High School, one of Wareham's longstanding rivals.
Wareham-ORR games are always fun, Smith said, especially because “a lot of the time, you'll see Wareham faces in ORR jerseys.” She added that it was the team's first home game this season, so there was an added level of excitement and enthusiasm from the crowd.
“It was a really good, healthy rivalry — a good, close game,” she said. In the end, Vikings were victorious 56-51.
At that game, the team's captain Alton McCane, a senior, scored 44 of the team's 56 points.
“So that was just really amazing, to see him shine on his home court senior year,” Smith recalled. She commended McCane's skill as an athlete and as a team leader.
Smith noted that the team also has a strong defense this year, which isn't always the case for unified basketball teams.
“We've been able to capitalize and come up with some steals, and turnovers, and rebounds,” she said.
Beyond just winning games and scoring points, Smith said the season has been great in other ways too.
“At the end of the day, you're trying to create opportunities for all of the athletes,” Smith said. “The wins and losses aren't really what matter at the end of it. It's been a very very successful season, not just in scores and points, but just what has happened between the relationship with our athletes and our partners.”
Smith praised the team's partners, who work to ensure that the athletes have plenty of opportunities to score.
“Our athletes are getting opportunities to experience the true greatness of the sport, and our partners are so supportive and are making that mission happen,” she said. Smith emphasized that the team's greatest strength is “the connections between our athletes and our partners.”
Those interested in showing their support for the Unified Basketball Team are in luck. Smith said the team is hoping to fill the stands at their Nov. 3 home game — it is the team's last game of the season, and it will be senior night.
“We really really want to just support this group and make them feel the Viking spirit and pride behind them,” Smith said. She encouraged anyone interested to come cheer on the team.