Richardson takes charge for Key

January 20, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Chris Richardson is one of those emotional athletes who wears his heart on his sleeve.

The Francis Scott Key football running back and basketball forward has been speaking his mind for three years at Key and he's not about to stop now.

Especially since he has a chance to be part of the most successful Eagles basketball team in a long time and this is his last time around.

Richardson is doing everything he can on the court and off to make sure Key doesn't squander an opportunity to have a special season.

The 6-foot-1 senior is pleading with his teammates to emphasize defense and he's warning opponents not to take the Eagles too lightly.

"I'm sick and tired of people sometimes cutting our team down," he said. "It's been going on throughout the years and it is still happening even though we have the most talented team in a long time this season.

"We still hear teams say, 'Oh good, we have Key this week.' Our goal since the first practice has been to do well in the playoffs. I think we're ready to take the program to the next step."

Key came out of the gate with a 4-0 start before going into a five-game losing streak.

The Eagles have recovered in the past three games, going 2-1 to improve to 6-6 entering tonight's game against North Hagerstown at Key.

If Key is to make it to the state 1A tournament, Richardson believes the team will have to improve its defense.

"You always hear guys talk after a game and the first thing they say is 'I had 30 points or 25 points.' I get more kick out of saying 'I took four, five or six charges and we won the game,' " he said.

"I love to play defense. My biggest thrill in basketball came last year when we beat Williamsport in double overtime and I took six charges. At the beginning of this season, we all picked goals we wanted to accomplish and I said I wanted to play good defense and take as many charges as possible."

In that victory over Williamsport, Richardson was matched against 6-foot-4, 260-pound John Hall and managed to score seven points in addition to playing super defense.

Key coach Jeff Cook routinely assigns Richardson to the highest scorer on the other team.

Last week against Catoctin and its high-scoring 6-4 forward Tony Minnito (22 points a game), Richardson limited Minnito to 17 points and helped keep Key in the game before a 78-66 loss.

Also against Catoctin, Richardson put on the offensive show of his career.

Richardson, who averages nine points, scored 21 points against the Cougars and showed he could be an offensive force to go along with the team's more renowned scorers -- Topher Casserly, Mike Crawmer and Steve Wright.

"Other teams are always looking for Topher and Mike, so I feel like I can sneak in there and do some scoring," said Richardson. "But I know I'm not going to score a lot of points in every game. My primary job is to play defense and get down the court on our fast breaks."

No wonder Cook says Richardson has a great attitude.

"He's strong enough inside and outside to play tough defense on anybody," said Cook. "Because of Chris our entire defense has picked up in the past four games."

The second loss in the five-game skid was a three-point setback to North Carroll in the Christmas tournament at North Carroll, a team the Eagles had beaten by 44 points on Dec. 9 at Key.

In that setback, the Eagles lost a lot of confidence, said Richardson.

"We had that 'we can't lose mentality' before the North Carroll game and then all of a sudden our shots stopped falling. It took us a while to regain our confidence but I feel we're on a little roll now," he said.

Richardson said he is playing basketball without any pressure.

"It's not like football where if I mess up, it seems like I hear 'Chris lost the game.' In basketball, if I make a mistake, it's just 'Chris made a mistake' and everybody goes on with things," he said.

However, the two-time first-team All-County football selection knows his future is in that sport and he is headed for Shepherd College.

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