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Big move for Richmond twins a big boon to Perk Valley

Hanan Richmond wanted to spend her junior year of high school playing basketball at home in Illinois playing for Evanston Township. Her senior year, too.

Hanan Richmond wanted to spend her junior year of high school playing basketball at home in Illinois playing for Evanston Township. Her senior year, too.

She spent the summer unable to accept that it wouldn't be her reality.

Her twin sister Iman - older by 23 minutes - felt the same way.

"I really didn't want to leave," Iman said. "I tried to do everything not to leave."

She asked her grandmother, aunt and uncle - former NBA player Everette Stephens - to convince her mom, Gail Stephens, to let the 16-year olds stay.

She tried maintaining good grades and being on her best behavior - anything so she could remain with the friends she grew up with at the school where both her parents attended - the place where her mom and uncle are in the athletic Hall of Fame.

It wasn't until their mom came back to their Evanston home one day with a U-Haul truck and boxes that Iman "finally gave up" and realized the move was definitely happening.

The Richmond siblings were headed to Collegeville and Perkiomen Valley High School.

"It was weird at first," Iman said. "Now it is relaxing, very relaxing."

The move was a long time coming. For the past few years, Gail Stephens has been working in King of Prussia, while her daughters lived with their grandmother just outside of Chicago. Stephens commuted back and forth, spending weeks or months with her girls whenever she could.

"She just did what she had to do," Hanan said.

But Stephens wanted the family to be together as a unit and decided that they would all live together after the girls' sophomore year.

The girls understood, but that didn't make leaving easy.

For Hanan, it was her AAU coach Corryne Irvin who talked some sense in her.

Iman got advice from Corryne's husband Mac.

The message from the couple was simple: don't let something like moving keep you from working hard.

And so, with advice from the Irvins - and a rekindled focus - it was time for the Richmonds to meet the Vikings.

It didn't happen right away. In fact, the first encounter occurred during open gym in the middle of October. They made an immediate impression on coach John Stawoet, and the girls felt at home during a meal with the team at California Tortilla.

"I'm very happy," Iman said. "It's a great experience. It isn't how I thought it would be at all - it is better."

The same could be said about the start to Perkiomen Valley's season.

The Vikings have a 6-0 record. That includes a 19-point win over North Penn and an 18-point victory against Lansdale Catholic.

"I'm in seventh heaven," Strawoet said.

Adjustments for the girls at home mean family trips to the YMCA and museums. Adjustments on the basketball court have been more difficult, as both have had to learn how to run the offense and focus on help defense.

"They slow it down - we run the plays and actually execute them," Iman said, comparing Perk Valley to Evanston. "It's more fundamental."

Even though they are more than 750 miles away, Hanan and Iman still stay in regular contact with the Irvins through texting, phone calls and Twitter. Just last week, after a game against Boyertown - the senior class's first victory over the Bears - Hanan's first call was to Corryne.

Irvin looked up the stats for the game and told Hanan that she "took care of business."

Hanan had taken her ex-coach's advice. She didn't let moving keep her from working hard.

By the Numbers

3 - Suburban One League American Conference championships in a row for Upper Dublin.

32.6 - Average margin of victory for Imhotep Charter this season.

35 - Consecutive Central League regular season wins for Garnet Valley.

Game of the Week

Gwynedd Mercy at Mount St. Joseph, Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

A rematch of the Catholic Academies title game last year, which was won by Mount St. Joseph. Both teams go into the contest with undefeated records.