Take your best shot, but no one’s tougher than Richards
By Andrew Petyak
New Castle News
Forty minutes before the scheduled start of practice, it was easy to find Anthony Richards.
The New Castle High junior guard was where he always was, with teammate and best friend Brandon Domenick on the court, draining 3-pointers.
“Brandon and I have been shooting together for years,” Richards said. “Every day before practice we shoot together and after practice we shoot together.”
It’s almost robotic watching Richards shoot during these practice sessions. Using a machine called “The Gun,” which traps the ball in a net and cycles and launches it back to the shooter, Richards establishes a rhythm to his shots.
Just like that, one goes in. Then another. Then another.
“Just making them in key situations is just repetition,” Richards said. “When you’re comfortable in doing things and when you invest in something and do it so much, it’s easy to do it in pressure situations.”
Richards thrived off pressure this season for the Red Hurricane (29-1). In the ’Canes eight playoff games, he accumulated 28 3-pointers. For the season, Richards totaled a team-high 80 and averaged 9.6 points a game.
His playoff performance in games last week earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
“This is two years in a row he’s shot the ball really great in the postseason,” coach Ralph Blundo said. “It’s completely relative to the amount of shots he’s put up in the offseason. He has the confidence to take and make big shots in the biggest games.”
Records were made to be broken and no one knew that better than Domenick and Richards.
Domenick, a senior, and Richards eclipsed the school record this season of 181 career 3-pointers set by Eddie Pagley. Richards trails Domenick in career 3-pointers by four with a total of 203. With a year still to go in his high school career, he appears on pace to eclipse Domenick’s total.
He passed Pagley’s record in the team’s WPIAL quarterfinal-round matchup against Gateway earlier in the season.
“I looked up to him like he was how LeBron James is now,” Richards said of Pagley. “It’s such an honor to pass his record of all-time 3-pointers. It’s an honor to pass up somebody you looked up to as a little kid.”
It was obvious from an early age — Richards was born to play basketball. He recalled how his brothers, Dave and Chris Richards, started his obsession with the sport.
“I’ve been going to games since I was a little kid in a stroller,” he said. “Watching them play was great for me. I’ve always looked up to them and my whole family.”
Those family members that wowed Richards from an early age now are the ones watching from the stands in awe.
“Ever since I was a little kid, this is exactly what I’ve been dreaming about. It’s like I’m living that dream,” Richards said. “It was great for me watching them play. They come to most of the games and always talk to me after the game and stuff like that.
Anthony’s father, David, is an assistant coach for the team and was a 1980 New Castle graduate who played for the ’Canes. Anthony’s cousins, Tony Andrews, Michael Andrews and Ron DePorzio, also played basketball for the school.
“It’s obviously been a pleasure coaching him as well as all the other kids on the team,” David Richards said. “The kids work hard and want to win. That makes coaching so much fun. Our kids give great effort every single day in practice.
“I coached elementary school for years. Most of the guys on our team — Stew and Drew Allen, Malik Hooker, Shawn Anderson, Antonio Rudolph and Brandon Domenick — I coached them in elementary school. To see them grow up and be a Red Hurricane is what makes me proud.”
Beyond his 3-point shooting, what separates Anthony Richards is his toughness.
“He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached,” Blundo said. “I haven’t been around New Castle sports my entire life, but I’ve been around enough to know from my perspective, he may be the toughest kid to put on a New Castle uniform. He’s that tough. Over a three-year period, he’s taken almost 60 charges, which is unbelievable. It’s an unbelievable number at 5-foot-8, 155 pounds. That’s one of the reasons, well beyond his ability to shoot, you just can’t take him off the floor. He brings the energy up of the entire team.”
Toughness is something Richard had to gain early. With two older brothers, it became a necessity.
“He had a brother nine years older and a brother six years older. It was survival,” David Richards said with a laugh.
“What’s benefited him is being the third of three brothers all playing basketball. He watched his older brothers in the back yard or in practice. He understood he needed to practice to get better. He learned what hard work was about.”
It wasn’t always a fair playing field in the back yard when Anthony went head-to-head against his siblings.
“I got cheated every single time I played them,” he joked. “Even if I was going to win, I got cheated somehow. I wasn’t allowed to call a foul. Whatever happened, I was not allowed to call a foul. It’s still the same way.”
With investments in toughness, hard work and dedication, Richards has a clear goal every time he hits the court.
“I want to play as hard as I possibly can play. Every time we walk onto the court as a team and individuals, we want to outcompete, outtough and outwork no matter who we’re playing — the best team in the state or the worst team in our conference.”
THE ANTHONY RICHARDS FILE
TEAM: New Castle
KNOWN FOR: Richards tallied 26 points in two PIAA tournament victories last week. He combined for 28 3-pointers in eight playoff games this season and leads the team with 80.
PARENTS: David and Doreen Richards
FAVORITE COLLEGE PLAYER AND WHY: Former Duke player J.J. Redick. “He’s a great shooter. I try to mimic how he shoots and his form. He was a Duke player and he was the best player in the nation at one time.”
FAVORITE TEAM AND WHY: Duke Blue Devils. “Both of my brothers are North Carolina fans and all my cousins are. In 2001, Duke won the national championship. My dad started a little rivalry in the house and made me a Duke fan. Ever since then, every time Duke and North Carolina play, it’s a big rivalry in my family.”
FUTURE PLANS: “If I can play basketball in college, I’d like to. I’d like to major in pre-med or law.”