West Chester East boys’ basketball coach Tom Durant’s favorite picture from this photogenic season shows senior star Andrew Carr with a thunderous dunk in the District 1 Class 5A title game.
Durant especially likes the background, where senior Tym Richardson is captured in full-throated celebration of Carr’s emphatic bucket at the Liacouras Center at Temple University.
“I’ll always cherish the picture of him with Andrew dunking in the district championship game,” Durant said. “Tym’s behind him, cheering and he’s so excited and that tells you he’s not that selfish guy.”
The 6-foot-4 Richardson has joined with the 6-10 Carr to lead the way as West Chester East has fashioned the most accomplished season in program history.
Smooth on offense and sturdy on defense, Richardson has been the ideal complement to Carr as the Vikings have rolled to a 27-2 record, capturing the program’s first district title and reaching the second round of the PIAA state tournament.
West Chester East (27-2) will meet District 11 runner-up Pottsville (22-5) on Tuesday night at the Geigle Complex in Reading, with the chance to advance to play the West Chester Rustin-Unionville winner in Friday night’s quarterfinals.
“This year has been great,” Richardson said after W.C. East opened the state tournament with a 53-33 victory over Gettysburg on Friday night at Norristown. “We set high standards for ourselves, and we made them so far. We’re such a big family. Throughout the year we’ve grown, and it’s showing on the court.”
Richardson scored 13 in the victory, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and 1-for-1 from the foul line. But his biggest impact was at the defensive end, where he contained highly touted Gettysburg junior swingman Quadir Copeland.
The rangy, athletic Copeland finished with 17 points, but most of them came after the outcome was decided. He scored five in the first half, as West Chester East broke to a 31-15 lead.
“This week in practice, I told Coach I want [No.] 23 [Copeland] because that’s their best player,” Richardson said. “I like guarding the best player."
Durant said Richardson, who has drawn recruiting interest from NCAA Division II programs such as West Chester and East Stroudsburg as well as NCAA Division I schools such as Iona and Siena, is an intriguing prospect because of his defensive ability.
“We keep telling him, to play at the next level, that’s what they’re looking for,” Durant said. “The length you have helps you out in being a good defender; you were born with that. Now it’s all heart.
“It’s neat that he’s buying in on defense because the next level, that’s what they’re going to want him for."
Richardson and Carr, the cocaptains, are the Vikings’ only seniors. They were part of the program as freshmen, when the varsity went 3-18.
“It feels great to be part of changing the program,” Richardson said. “Hopefully, it keeps going.”
Richardson said he takes special pride in serving as a leader.
“My thing is to be as big a leader as I can for the younger guys,” Richardson said. “When they see me go, they go too.
“Same with Andrew: See him go, they go too. We feed off each other.”
For Durant, Richardson’s true value transcends his ability to snake into the lane and finish at the rim on offense and clamp down on talented opponents on defense.
“He brings that joy for basketball,” Durant said. “The kids look up to him because he’s the type of kid in practice who doesn’t like to take off, wants to be in every drill.