At a Monday evening practice, the Franklin Towne Charter boys basketball team split themselves down the middle and scattered to opposite ends of the court for a shooting competition. Each player had 90 seconds to make as many jumpers as possible from the high posts, and the side with the highest composite score at the end won.
As each subsequent player took his turn, it appeared that the underdog faction down at the far end of the gym was going to steal a victory.
But unfortunately for them, Ryan Boyd still had to shoot.
Boyd, Towne’s sharpshooting senior two guard, made every single shot he attempted, and at such a rapid rate that it became difficult to keep an accurate count. It was no surprise to see Boyd mobbed by teammates after such an impressive display, as it’s that smooth shooting touch that again has the Coyotes in playoff contention.
“We have a rule on this team for Ryan,” said Towne second-year head coach Chris Lauber. “If he’s open, he has to shoot. Anytime he has a look, he can shoot it. I might get mad and yell at some of the other guys for taking bad shots, but for him, there’s no such thing.”
At press time, Boyd was averaging 19.1 points per game in eight Public League Division D contests, and 15.5 overall. A four-year varsity player, his maturation into one of the league’s more dependable scorers came to fruition last season. He erupted for 29 points in a game last year against World Communication Charter, nailing a school-record nine three-pointers before ultimately leading the program to its first ever playoff berth. This season, in a close Jan. 6 win over Randolph, Boyd nailed eight more treys en route to a school-record 33 points.
His efforts have Towne sitting at 8-8 overall and 6-3 in the division, which is currently tied for sixth. Only the top five from Division D qualify for the playoffs, and with three regular season games left (two against teams in front of them in the standings: 9-1 Kensington and 7-2 Palumbo), Boyd and company most likely have to win out to make it back again this year, a thought that doesn’t faze Towne’s star player one bit.
“It’s so exciting, to be able to go out there and control our own destiny,” the Tacony native said. “If we go out there and take care of business, we can make the playoffs and go in there on fire. Who knows what our limit is? I know nobody expects us from Division D, but maybe we can shock the world. Either way, I believe in these guys 100 percent, and the rest of the season is in our hands.”
Boyd’s older brother, Ray, attended Towne (Class of 2009) and played basketball for three years, so it was only natural for Ryan to follow in his sibling’s footsteps. Ryan saw Ray, “an energetic, sixth man-type player,” nearly guide the Coyotes to the program’s first postseason berth in 2009 (Towne lost a tiebreaker on a coin flip) and wished to finish what his brother started. Now, Ray Boyd, a recent graduate of Temple University’s school of broadcast journalism who now works at WIP, can watch his younger brother shine to the tune of 2.8 three pointers made per game, which Lauber said is tops in the entire league.
“As a freshman he had skills, but he didn’t really know what he was doing out there,” Lauber said. “Then last year we started seeing glimpses where it would happen more consistently. I don’t think even he knew how good he was, but once he realized his own athleticism and got more confident in his shot, it started clicking. Now, if we need something, he’s the guy to do it.”
Boyd learned how to be a leader from program mainstays like Steve Smith and Naje Benton, players who graduated a year ago. With both a scoring and leadership void to fill, Boyd stepped up.
“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous, but I realized someone had to do it,” he said. “I’ve been on the team since freshman year and I know how competitive things are in the Public League, so who better than someone who’s experienced it all? If someone had to step up, then why not me? I want to be the anchor.”
He spoke maturely about the responsibility of mentoring younger players like juniors Steve Callahan and Will Welch, and freshmen Joe Greenstein and Cordelle Swinson, players who will take the reins when Boyd moves on.
“It’s something I take to heart,” he said. “I want to help these younger guys because I really care about this school as a whole. I want them to have success after I’m gone.”
Poignant and well-spoken, it’s no surprise to hear that Boyd is an honors student at Towne. He’s currently enrolled in two advanced placement classes, and is involved in the school’s mentor counseling program for freshmen, which helps ease the transition from middle to high school. On Friday, the mentor counseling program and student government will take a joint trip to Washington, D.C. for a leadership conference.
“To get involved here just makes high school so much fun,” Boyd said. “These teachers here really care about you. Plus, I’ve always kind of liked school, so I don’t have any regrets. I can look back and smile knowing I made the most of these four years, and that’s something that really makes me proud to be able to say.”
Boyd said he’s applied to six colleges, already earning scholarships to both Holy Family and Arcadia. However, like his older brother, Temple is the preferred destination, and Boyd is still waiting to hear back from the school. He thinks he’d like to pursue a career in either broadcast journalism or sports management, and Boyd said he wouldn’t be shy about trying out for Temple’s basketball team as a walk-on, should he get accepted to the school.
“They’re a Division I program, so they’re really popular,” he said. “But it’s something I’d be willing to try. I’ve never been afraid of a challenge.”
But first things first: Boyd has another hefty challenge on his plate, and that’s attempting to guide Towne back to the postseason. It won’t be easy, but that’s fine with Boyd.
“I just want to make the most out of it, because I’ve had a great time playing with these guys,” he said. “This is a game I’ve loved since I was 3 years old. It’s a little nerve wracking, so we’re just trying to take it a quarter at a time. We pretend every quarter is a new game, and we always like to say, ‘We’ve got four games today, so let’s go out and win them all.’ We made the playoffs last year for the first time in school history and felt really good about that.
“Now, we want to do it again.” ••