Savannah has a long history of producing great basketball players and teams, and a group of fifth graders carried the torch for the city again in 2022 by bringing home a Georgia Recreation and Parks Association 10-Under state tournament championship.
The Pitbulls, coached by Kegan Richards, is a team composed of fifth graders from different schools and backgrounds that have played together for the past few years. The roster includes Daryll Heyward, Kyree Richards, Joseph Rogers, Jr., Carter Jackson, Cole Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Jhurell Gibson, Mikkle Washington, Anderson Rahal and Kenneth Bostick.
The team finished the season 24-0, including decisive victories in the state tournament played in Tucker, Ga., in early March. The Pitbulls won their seeding game to earn the tournament's No. 1 seed and then defeated College Park 47-22, in the semifinals and Rome Blue, 57-28, in the championship game.
It's the second GRPA state tournament title for the Pitbulls. The group won the state championship in the 8-Under age bracket two years ago in Pooler.
"There is great chemistry on this team," said Richards, who was one of the founders of the Pitbulls organization. "Our program is founded on pressure defense, and our full court press sets the tone for our kids. They are all athletic kids and just about every kid on this team stood out during this season."
Richards' son, Kyree, was the team's offensive leader and averabged more than 20 points per game. But Richards said players like Cole Thompson, a Hancock Day School fifth grader who was the team's three-point specialist, St. James fifth grader Anderson Rahal, and Blessed Sacrament fifth grader Josh Rogers all played critical roles for the Pitbulls.
The Pitbulls have achieved great heights despite not having a designated practice facility. Richards and the players' parents often come out of pocket for uniforms, practice space and other costs.
"The main thing is I want these kids to learn that you have to have an identity," Richards said. "Whover you represent you are part of that organization. I would like to stress to the City of Savannah that they have to provide these kids with resourches to feel appreciated. We want the kids to recognize where they come from, and I think the city is short changing these kids who wear the jersey representing Savannah."