ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Lakeside junior Brandon Ford scored 38 points in a cross-town thriller at Edgewood on Saturday, but it was his defense that ultimately lifted his team to a 69-68 victory.

Trailing 68-67 with less than 30 seconds remaining, Ford pounced and stole the ball away from Edgewood’s Ethan Colbert near midcourt. Colbert stripped Ford as the latter rose up for a potential go-ahead lay up, but Ford regained control of the ball and tossed it to Nathan Boiarski for the eventual game-winner with 19.4 seconds left.

Ford then blocked Edgewood’s potential game-winner in the final seconds to seal the victory.

“I knew that we could come back for sure,” Ford said of his mindset as Edgewood inbounded the ball with a 68-67 advantage. “I just wanted to get the steal, and I knew if I got the steal one of my teammates would be there to help me score, so [Boiarski] did it and I’m just so thankful that we beat them.”

Ford finished with 38 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Colbert led Edgewood with 32 points and 10 rebounds, and Alec Katon scored 21 for the Warriors.

Ford and Colbert battled shot for shot in the early going. Ford scored 14 points in the first quarter, reached 20 less than three minutes into the second and had 22 at halftime. Colbert, a transfer from Lakeside and former teammate of Ford’s, nailed five 3-pointers in the first half and carried 18 points into the intermission.

“All my life I’ve been playing with [Colbert], so it was kind of different playing against him, but just to see me and him going back and forth, it was really fun,” Ford said.

Ford dropped 22 points in the first half, but he was not the only Dragon scoring the ball. Sean McKee had six of his 13 points in the first quarter. Dom Parsons, Saivion Colbert, Javontae Yates and Boiarski got into the mix as well, and Lakeside tallied 39 first-half points.

The Dragons had a 10-point lead in the first quarter, a nine-point advantage in the second and carried a 40-34 lead into the intermission.

“We get jacked up here in the locker room and the kids, especially with it being a cross-town rival, that in itself is enough for them to get pumped,” Lakeside coach Matt Newsome said. “We came in here, got pumped up in [the locker room before the game] and then went out on the floor and got together. We had one final talk and those kids were just ready to be unleashed.”

The Warriors managed to weather the storm, though, and continued to do so despite facing a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 62-56, Colbert navigated his way to the foul line for five points — three after a foul behind the 3-point arc and two more from a one-and-one — to pull Edgewood within one. Yates doubled Lakeside’s lead to two, 63-61, then Katon found his way to the charity stripe.

He drained a pair to tie the game 63-63 — the first tie since 10-10 in the first quarter. He nailed two more to give Edgewood its first lead of the game with only 1:58 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Izaiah Harris drew a charge on Lakeside’s following possession and Katon added another bucket to extend his team’s lead to 67-63.

Ford answered with a foul shot, then connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 67 apiece with 57 seconds remaining. Colbert made his way to the foul line once again, this time for four shots after a Lakeside technical foul.

With 31 points under his belt before his first attempt, Colbert made 1 of 4. Lakeside eventually took advantage and escaped with the 69-68 win.

“We were in the game and we kept fighting and the kids never gave up and I’m real pleased with the effort,” Edgewood coach John Bowler said. “We had our chances and we didn’t capitalize at the end of the game. That’s all it came down to … And I know Ethan at the end was very tired during the foul shots and I know normally he’s going to make those.”

The loss was Edgewood’s ninth in a row and dropped the Warriors to 5-11. Still, Bowler had nothing but positives when talking about his team, especially his two stars who combined for 53 points.

“They played so hard,” he said. “We had an opportunity and those two [Colbert and Katon] played their hearts out and the rest of the team did, too. Our role players are starting to play better and everybody’s playing a little bit better, and we are getting better. The wins and losses aren’t showing it. I’m real pleased with the effort. Lakeside’s got a lot of talent and we matched it tonight, so I was real pleased.”

The Dragons improved to 7-10 with the win. They have a tough week ahead of them with a home game against Warren G. Harding on Tuesday, followed by CVC contest at Harvey on Friday and a game at St. Edward on Saturday. St. Edward is currently ranked No. 2 in the state in Division I.

“At this point, we’ll just focus on Harding,” Newsome said. “We’ll break down that film. We’ve been looking at it but we’ll take another hard look at it together as the coaches and then together as a team. And just look for another intense week of practice.

“The kids have really been practicing well, that’s one of the things that we’ve tried to change here ... They understand that during practice, we’re giving them answers to the test and then they’re coming out and executing.”

UNDEFEATED IN THE COUNTY

The Dragons have now swept both Geneva and Edgewood, and own a perfect 4-0 mark against county teams. They have one more county foe to take on this year — a Feb. 18 contest at Jefferson.

“Our culture, the freshmen that are coming up, they’re going to be really good, so just to sweep the county teams and know we’re getting up there with them, it’s really good,” Ford said.

HIGH PRAISE

Newsome gushed over Ford’s performance after the win.

“It all came down to Brandon playing the game of his life,” Newsome said. “He’s kind of like a fine wine, just keeps getting better with age, and I just couldn’t be more proud of him and this team.”

POSTSEASON LOOMING

Both teams will learn their playoff fate soon, as the Ohio High School Athletic Association is scheduled to release the boys tournament draws later today.

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