HENRYETTA, Okla. – The Barton Williams 1 vs. 9 Men’s All NDN Basketball Tournament was held at the Wilson High School gymnasium. Concessions were available for sale, along with t-shirts. Teams that placed in first, second and third place received prizes. The all-day tournament was hosted Nov. 11., and was held in memory of Mvskoke Army veteran and Lighthorse Officer Barton Williams.
Riley Berry (Mvskoke) and his family hosted the Barton Williams memorial tournament. The family had discussed hosting a tournament for some time after Williams had passed away. However, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic those plans were pushed back. This year marked the first time the tournament could finally go into effect.
Mehenwa Williams, Rita Williams, Nichole Green and Berry organized the tournament among other family member volunteers.
The tournament was an all-Native men’s basketball tournament. Native Americans were eligible to compete regardless of tribal affiliation. The event oversaw an eight man roster, double elimination, and nine teams in all competing. Teams came from all over Oklahoma including El Reno, Oklahoma City, Muskogee, Shawnee and Tulsa.
The rules were the same as a regular basketball tournament. Each team in the winner’s bracket played two 18 minute halves, the loser’s bracket played two 16 minute halves. Each team was allotted four timeouts, each half time lasted two minutes.
Prizes were awarded to high ranking teams. This included the Barton Williams Award, which went to the individual who scored the most points. That person would receive a “Dogtown Version” Wilson Evolution basketball. The most valuable player received a Grinch-themed backpack.
First place received hoodies, second place received long sleeve t-shirts and third place received shorts. The prizes featured designs made in memory of Barton. Berry, Mehenwa and Rita Williams and Green helped create the design’s logo.
Barton Williams was an Army veteran. His logo featured an eagle along with a basketball. Inside the logo was a banner with nine feathers. The logo read “Barton 1 vs.9 Williams”. The tournament’s name came from Barton William’s mindset toward the sport.
“So 1 vs. 9, he would always tell me and tell everyone ‘when I played ball, when I got the rebound it wasn’t just 1 against 5. I’m against my teammates too so it was 1 against 9, so if I get the rebound I’m going to go score and if I steal I’m going to go score,’” Berry said.
According to Berry, Barton Williams enjoyed playing basketball and would tell family members of how well he played in games in years past. “He always bragged about playing and scoring 51 or 53 points,” Berry said.
Berry’s entire family played all sorts of sports, basketball being one of them. He wanted this specific tourney to be held in memory of his great uncle in order to carry on the beloved family member’s legacy. Barton Williams lived in Wilson and was part of the Wilson community. Barton enjoyed watching community basketball games as well.
“Wilson’s community, they have a plaque seat for him in their gymnasium and that’s how much he meant to the community. It makes me feel good that I get to let everybody know about him and what he did in his life, how he impacted us,” Berry said.
Berry has played in basketball tournaments across the country. This helped him learn how to run a tournament from the perspective of a player. He gathered information from playing in these tournaments, including rules, and general prizes given out. This gave him a general template of how the memorial tournament could be structured.
“This is our first year so we’re just trying to have it as a memorial and in memory of him. To have a good time playing basketball and just have a good time in the community. We are not here to make money but whatever proceeds we do make we are going to put it towards a veteran program,” Berry said.
First place: Wolf Creek
Second place: Prospects
Third place: GMB