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01/24/2023 11:48 AM

Richard Serving Key Bench Post Role for Hand Hoops

Junior forward/center Abbey Richard has been a solid and steady impact off the bench for the Hand girls’ basketball team this winter, maintaining marks of 5.4 points and 3.1 boards per night for the 9-3 Tigers. Photo courtesy of Abbey Richard

Sometimes in sports, or any profession in life, iron sharpens iron and you have to challenge yourself against top-skilled competitors, which is exactly the path Abbey Richard took to bring her game to the next level.

The Hand girls’ basketball team junior forward/center did everything from soccer to softball, lacrosse, and gymnastics growing up–including starting with hoops as a 2nd grader. Yet this past offseason in her AAU league, Abbey played against players who were a year older than her and going into their senior season. It has parlayed the way to her being a solid performer off the bench for the 9-3 Tigers this winter. Abbey holds averages of 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds a game.

“I enjoy the physicality, aggression, and level of knowledge needed for the game,” says Abbey. “My support system of my family, friends, and coaches has been amazing. I have played AAU since 6th grade, which has helped me progress as a player. I played U-17 for AAU last spring against older girls, which helped me also grow as a player. When you come across a challenge such as that, it forces you to adjust and grow from it. When you come back to high school basketball, the skills don’t go away, and I figured out a way around the challenges and to be more confident.”

In the post, Abbey plays a pivotal role in ball distribution and scoring. She notes logging so many miles and minutes up and down the floor has made her acquire the knack of when to fire the rock and to kick it back out.

“My decision-making process is all about the experience and knowledge from the game and reading situations. A lot of us on the team have played together for a while, so you are able to read off what they’ll do,” Abbey says. “My post moves have helped me. It is all about repetition because there are so many people in the paint, so you have to make quick decisions, and muscle memory kicks in. Mentally, you have to develop mental toughness and confidence. The ability to keep going and keep trying makes you successful.”

Hand Head Coach Tim Tredwell notes that he has seen significant improvement in Abbey over the course of the past year. He praises Abbey for her ability to produce points in a multitude of methods, in addition to her optimistic outlook.

“Abbey is just starting to scratch the surface of her enormous potential. She worked very hard this offseason, and you could see the light turn on,” says Tredwell. “She has great footwork in the post, an excellent touch around the basket, as well as the ability to step out and hit threes. She has been outstanding coming off the bench, providing us with another scoring threat and solid defense. Perhaps most importantly, she always has a great attitude in practice and games and is an exceptional teammate. I’m so pleased with her progress this season, and I am excited to see how much she continues to grow.”

As an invaluable sixth man for Hand, Abbey is fueled by the love for her teammates to enter the game and make a big impact in big moments during crunch time with her diverse skill set.

“Coming off the bench and contributing is exciting, and I just love being able to contribute any way I can,” says Abbey. “Whether that be getting boards or using my post moves, it is great. It is just great to do all of it for a team I care so much for.”

For the defensive front, familiarity with the floor breeds stinginess when defending the bucket for Abbey. She explains that it also involves the critical movements made when she is not in possession of the ball or defending an adversary without it.

“Defensively, it is a lot about court awareness and knowing where to be on the court and how to help teammates,” Abbey says. “You have to protect the basket. I have also learned how to play good defense and avoid fouls while keeping my hands up. Coach Tredwell says to be aggressive on defense, and I have done that with my defensive skills.”

More than halfway through the regular season portion of the campaign with a postseason berth already intact, Abbey and the Tigers have a deep and well-rounded group to go deep into March, thanks in large part to the poise of the squad’s veterans.

“Our team chemistry and composure are our greatest strengths this year,” says Abbey. “We have also learned so much from our seniors with their experience and composure. If we continue to play together and stay positive, we can go far as a team and achieve the goals we have.”