HAVERFORD — Tommy Wright didn’t know for sure where he’d fit in when the Haverford basketball season began. Graduations from last year’s states team left niches open, and Wright was ready to step into whichever the team needed.
In the process, Wright has advanced a trait that is as strong with the Fords’ program as any in the area: The ability to rotate players up into bigger roles year after year.
Wright is averaging 8.0 points per game. Last year, as an off-ball player who got most of his offense as a spot-up shooter or on the offensive glass, he averaged 6.0 ppg.
The Fords had to replace two of their leading scorers from last year, Nick Colucci and JR Newman. So Wright and Brian Wiener, who went from 6.4 ppg to 12.1 this season, have cycled up to bigger roles.
“Once you figure it out and we start getting better and better chemistry, it all starts clicking,” Wright said.
The Fords’ top three scorers – Wright, Wiener and Googie Seidman (18.3 ppg) – account for 77 percent of their points. That’s one of the largest shares in the county. Each has grown from complementary scorers to featured players, Seidman in particular blossoming from a wing shooter to more of a ball-handler this season. He hit 71 3-pointers last season, about 2.7 makes per game, and averaged 14.5 points. His scoring is up as a senior, though his marksmanship has dropped (27 made 3-pointers, 1.7 per game) as he’s working for higher percentage shots.
That kind of generational rotation underpins Haverford’s status as a consistent Central League challenger in recent years. The 2020 champs have continued to replace standouts under coach Keith Heinerichs, a multi-year process Wright can see happening in real time.
“If you play hard, you take good shots, you don’t force anything, if you do all the little things, they’ll put you in the game,” Wright said. “I think us three kind of exemplify that. … I think it helps having coach Heinrichs as such a good leader, and he pushes us to be the best we can at all times.”
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The basketball season doesn’t slow the pace of football recruiting, as a handful of basketball players find their attentions divided this winter. They just so happen to be bigs who cut impressive figures on both the court and the gridiron.
Chester’s Dominic Toy has received offers from UConn, Temple, Boston College and Rutgers. The junior tight end/defensive end is averaging 7.1 points per game in 12 outings for the Clippers. That includes back-to-back games of 14 points against Lower Merion and 18 against Overbrook.
Mylachi Williams, a Bonner & Prendergast junior edge rusher/tight end, has an impressive list of offers: Temple, Penn State, James Madison, West Virginia, Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College, UConn, Duke, Pitt. Williams is averaging 1.7 ppg over 10 games for the Friars.
Down at Chichester, senior defensive lineman Eyan Thomas has interest from St. Francis, North Carolina A&T, Delaware State and Lock Haven. A key cog in the Eagles’ stellar season, he’s averaging 2.0 ppg in 12 games and has provided a pivotal defensive presence. Thomas was sorely missed in last week’s overtime loss to Chester, away for a high school all-star football game in Florida.
The connection between bigs who can hoop isn’t just coincidence. Consider the most likely Delco name to be called in this spring’s NFL Draft: Asim Richards. The Haverford School grad was a starting right tackle the last three season at North Carolina, helping the Tar Heels start this year 9-1 and reach a top-10 national ranking. Richards averaged 6.8 ppg as a senior with the Fords, who went 28-0 and won the Inter-Ac League and PAISAA titles.
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About a mile separates Archbishop Carroll and Radnor. And while the two teams have combined to win 28 games, the difference in their styles is stark.
Radnor is averaging 58.9 points per game, an average margin of victory of 20 points per in their first 17 games. To get there, the Raptors are averaging 4.3 made 3-pointers per game (though they tied a season-high with nine in Tuesday’s rout of Lower Merion).
Contrast that with Carroll, at 11-5 and averaging 70.2 ppg. The Patriots are averaging 10.6 made triples. Carroll has four players with more made 3-pointers than Radnor’s leader (Charlie Thornton, 23).
For Carroll, this year’s shooting is a significant bump over last year, when they made 7.8 3-pointers per game (and it comes with the loss of the biggest shooter from last year’s team, Moses Hipps, who drained 76 longballs). Carroll has nine guys in their rotation; all nine have hit at least four 3-pointers, with seven at more than 10 makes. Jake West leads the way with 29.
Radnor made 4.6 3-pointers per game last year, also losing their (co-)leading shooter in Pierce Justice. And while both teams have guards that can get into the lane off the bounce – Dean Coleman-Newsome primarily for Carroll, Danny Rosenblum and Thornton for the Raptors – Radnor’s game revolves around the mid-range game of Jackson Hicke rather than the drive-and-kick Carroll blueprint.
Contact Matthew De George at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @sportsdoctormd.