The way she squares up to the basket. The gentle release. The backspin she puts on the basketball that snaps at the bottom of the net.
Tumwater coach Dave Littleton can tell when senior wing Jordyn Richardson is going to make a 3-point shot. After all, it’s her specialty.
“Sometimes, she’ll shoot it, and it’s going to splash when it leaves her hand,” Littleton said. “It’s amazing. She has really become clutch.”
Richardson’s long-range abilities are no secret. She’s hit 33.3 percent (24 of 72) of her 3-pointers for the Thunderbirds (11-2 overall, 4-2 2A Evergreen Conference), who start the second half of their season by playing host to Centralia at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
There are no better words for shooters in basketball than “green light.” Richardson often draws the opposing team’s best defender. Her skill behind the arc was something South Sound got accustomed during her first two years at Tumwater, but became eye-popping in another state her junior season.
Following her sophomore season at Tumwater, which she had earned second-team all-Evergreen Conference honors, Jordyn and her father, Scott, moved to Utah. What originally was supposed to be a week-long trip to visit relatives in Park City during the summer of 2009 turned into a permanent fixture for her junior year.
“I fell in love with Utah,” Richardson said.
She enrolled at Wasatch High School, a Class 3A school which had won back-to-back girls basketball state titles in 2008-09. She already was somewhat familiar with Wasatch and her soon-to-be teammates when she arrived to start school in September.
During her week-long visit, Scott found his daughter an area high school team to scrimmage with – for only one day – just so she wouldn’t become rusty.
It was Wasatch.
And once she settled in her new school, Richardson flourished.
She led the Wasps in scoring at 12.5 points per game, and was voted second-team all-state, leading her team to a sixth-place finish at the state tournament last season.
She made at least one 3-pointer in 22 of the 25 games she played. She set school records for 3-pointers in a game (eight) and in a season (76), and came close to breaking state records, too. The state record for 3-pointers made are nine (game) and 80 (season).
Long-range shooting has always come naturally to Richardson, but more people became aware of how lethal she was during her junior season.
“When I was younger, I was never that tall,” Richardson recalled. “I always just used my 3-point shot. When I realized I could shoot, it was a habit that developed for me.”
Her shooting has paved the way to a college program, too.
Richardson committed to Saint Martin’s University, signing a letter of intent in November. Saints coach Tim Healy has said her long-range shooting will be the best thing the 5-foot-8 senior brings to his NCAA Div. II program.
On a Tumwater team that’s averaging 65.7 points per game, Richardson’s scoring average is just under 10 points per game.
She decided to come back to Tumwater in late June following her junior year.
“I definitely missed my family,” she said.
She’s returned to her hometown and reunited with teammates and friends she’s been with since her days at Bush Middle School, and also played for Columbia Cascades, a summer traveling team based in southwest Washington.
It took Richardson some games to adjust to playing for Tumwater again, and awhile to find her shot, especially with other strong shooters and playmakers on the floor with her.
But in three of the past four games she’s played, Richardson has scored in double figures, and part of the concept Littleton has adapted in his second stint coaching at Tumwater is finding the open teammate.
Still, Littleton said he still has to remind Richardson to shoot the ball more.
“She’s a selfless player,” Littleton said. “She’ so willing to share it, and help get the teammates involved. She’s a strong player. ... she seems to rise to the occasion.”