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Clinton Township

Clintondale senior point guard has come a long way

February 12, 2014

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Clinton Township Clintondale senior guard Semaj Richardson has grown into a strong leader, according to Dragons coach Rob Townsend. Richardson is the first three-year varsity player in Townsend’s seven years with the program. Richardson is pictured during a Dec. 10, 2013, game against Sterling Heights High.

CENTER LINE — Clinton Township Clintondale boys basketball coach Rob Townsend said senior point guard Semaj Richardson was immature when he joined the team as a sophomore.

Richardson, a three-year varsity player, didn’t disagree.

“I was a crybaby as a sophomore, and even as a junior,” Richardson said. “I constantly complained and nagged the (referees) about calls. But I learned by watching great professional and college players that you can’t act like that. You just have to play. Coach Townsend told me I had to grow up, and I just did what he told me to.”

Richardson is now captain of the Dragons. Townsend said the senior all-around talent has done a great job of leading the group — on and off the court.

“It’s a great feeling to know (Townsend) feels like that,” Richardson said. “I feel like these are all my little brothers, and I do anything to make them feel comfortable. I try to make this more like a family and not just a team.”

Townsend said he’s watched Richardson — the catalyst for a team that sat at 9-2, 6-1 Macomb Area Conference Silver Division, at press time — grow from a boy into a man. He said Richardson exhibits that maturity in a number of ways.

“He’s able to overcome adversity. I think that’s a sign of maturity,” Townsend said. “When something bad happens, you don’t let it ruin your day, or your week or your month, and that’s what I see out of Semaj.”

Richardson has sat out some games recently to nurse an injury, Townsend said, but noted that Richardson has remained upbeat throughout the process — even though he’s itching to get back on the court.

Townsend said his senior leader understands, though, that he plays more of a role on the team than simply being on the court.

“He’s just turned into an outstanding man,” said Townsend, in his seventh year with Clintondale. “He’s the kind of kid I hope my son grows up to be like.”

Townsend said Richardson, the first three-year varsity player of his tenure, leads by example. The Dragons’ coach called Richardson the team’s hardest worker and said he never misses practice. Townsend said Richardson understands how to talk to his teammates when they need “a kick in the butt or a pat on the back.”

Richardson also took on the charge of building a stronger bond with those teammates. He texted with them during the summer, Townsend said. This season, the team has gone to an Oakland University men’s basketball game and also had a Super Bowl party at Townsend’s home.

“He has a pulse for the team. He knows what needs to be done,” Townsend said. “That’s goes for on the court, too. He’s got a feel for the game now, especially playing the point guard position, of what I want to see from him on the floor.”

What Richardson wants to see on the floor is more wins. Clintondale, at press time, sat atop the MAC Silver Division and is looking to repeat as league champions. Richardson said stability is vital if the Dragons are to repeat. He said the team’s defense has been solid. Townsend said rebounding must improve.

“We’ve been hit by injuries a bit, but so far, we’ve been able to respond to that,” Townsend said. “I think our depth helps. You just have to go out and keep working hard and hope the right things happen.”

Richardson put out a call to his teammates to stay focused.

“We just have to keep looking at the goals ahead and stay level-headed,” he said.

Clintondale next hits the court to battle MAC Silver foe St. Clair Shores Lakeview at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 at Clintondale.

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