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Williams makes Ryan better every way possible



Darren Williams scored 28 points to help Ryan beat unbeaten Radnor in the PIAA 5A quarterfinals. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Most scorers love to talk about scoring.

Darren Williams isn’t most scorers.

Williams is a junior guard on the Archbishop Ryan High School basketball team, and he’s one of the top scorers in the Catholic League, scoring more than 16 points per game, and hitting better than 36 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.

He could tell you about the way his shot falls neatly through the net, or he could tell you about his rim-rocking dunks that drive the Raiders fans wild.

He could talk about all of those things, but despite his impressive offensive resume, Williams cares more about his defense and team defense because in his view, that’s where basketball games are won.

“I have a lot of roles on the team, but I love defense,” said Williams, who nearly always covers Ryan’s opponent’s best offensive threat. “You can do a lot, but you can do a lot especially on defense, guarding the best player every night. Do what I have to do to help my teammates. I think we have a very good defensive team.

“I like to score, but I take defense personally. That’s something everyone here does. But whenever I draw a player who is good, I love it. I get locked in. I look at it as an opportunity. Every game is a chance to get better.”

The Raiders once again have a chance to get better because they keep rolling in the state playoffs.

Ryan knocked off unbeaten Radnor 69-65 in a PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal at Bensalem High School to send the Raiders back to the semifinals where they’ll meet Public League powerhouse Imhotep Charter for the right to go to Hershey.

Against Radnor, a team that bested Ryan during nonleague play, the heroes were plentiful.

Big man Thomas Sorber, despite being plagued by foul trouble, had 14 points with 10 rebounds and nine blocks, and Ryan Everett and Zaire Paris each scored 10 points. Williams not only played great defense, but led the team with 28 points in the win.

Williams did everything, and he’s ready to do it again on Monday.

“We were happy to get a chance to play them again because we knew they were really good and that’s how you get better,” said Williams, who lives near Max Myers playground. “We didn’t play our best last time, and we learned a lot. They’re good, but they like to play with the lead.

“Thomas is so good, he can score, rebound and block shots, protect the rim. He does everything. When I saw he got into foul trouble, I knew I had to step up and help in other ways, grab rebounds, help out on defense and score. I’m happy to do whatever we need.”

It’s been that way since he arrived at Ryan freshman year.

But he has added to his game every year.

During his first year, Williams would see spotty minutes off the bench on a veteran team. Last year, he joined the starting lineup, and after some acclimation, he quickly became option B for the Raiders on offense.

That changed again this year.

Sorber is one of the top players in the junior class, so he’s still the team’s leading scorer many nights, but instead of being plan B, Williams and Sorber have become a two-headed monster. It also helps that both players, as well as everyone else on the team, are friends on and off the court. They don’t compete against each other, but they certainly push each other and that’s a huge reason for the Raiders being among the final four in arguably the toughest bracket in the state tournament.

“Everyone on the team takes responsibility for their role, and nobody wants to let anyone down,” Williams said. “My role is to score, be a leader, talk to my teammates and keep us together. And play defense. We have a great defense, and that’s because we all play it together.

“I love this team. We are so together. We all talk to each other, we love each other. If things are going wrong, we’re connected. The years we’ve been here, every year it’s like that. It’s always family.”

Family is a huge part of Williams’ life off the court, too.

His brother Derrick, who played for the Raiders last year before graduating, has always been a mentor to his younger brother.

“He got me into basketball,” Williams said. “I was the football guy, but he got me to play basketball. I did both, but more football. I had more enjoyment out of it. But in sixth grade, over the summer, I grew more and I got better at basketball, working at my craft with him.

“A lot of the people have helped me, coaches and friends, but definitely my parents try their best with me and my brother. I always try hard because I don’t want to say it would be disrespectful of me to not, but they do it for me, I can do it for them.”

Surely his parents are proud of everything he’s done on the basketball court, but they should be even prouder of the person he is.

Williams, a top player and an athlete who is getting plenty of attention from colleges, is far better off the court than he is on it.

“My main thing besides basketball, whoever I come across, whoever I speak with, my goal is to make a positive impact,” Williams said. “I want to make their day, week, anyone I see, if they’re having a bad day, I want to highlight their day in some way. There’s not a lot of people out there like that, too much negativity, I want to make someone’s day better rather than make it worse. And it makes me happy, too.”

Sorry, potential opponents, that changes when he’s playing defense.

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