On Feb. 12, senior Brandon Ford walked into Lakeside coach Matt Newsome’s office before the Dragons senior night game against the Academy for Urban Scholars.
Ford told Newsome he wanted a senior who doesn’t usually start to replace him in the starting lineup. Newsome urged Ford to start because he thought he deserved it, but Ford insisted he be replaced.
He sat on the bench until the 3:39 mark in the first quarter. After scoring 13 of his 24 points in the third quarter to spark a 31-9 run, Ford remained in the game for a good portion of the fourth quarter, but instead of scoring, he constantly set up teammates.
Lakeside went on to win the game 77-63 and nine players scored.
“He’s just so incredibly unselfish,” Newsome said of Ford after the win. “I’ve never actually played with or met a player like that before.”
As Ford approached the school scoring record, he still setup his teammates. Originally, it was thought he broke the record during a 78-36 win against Conneaut, but upon further review he remained short of the record.
Entering the final game of the season at Pymatuning Valley on March 6, Ford was within striking distance of breaking the record.
He scored three points in the first half, as Lakeside trailed 39-32. Ford then scored 27 points in the second half. He drained a deep 3-pointer to break the record. Shortly after, the game stopped with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter to acknowledge his achievement.
Ford won Ashtabula County Player of the Year for the second straight season after averaging 24.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, seven assists and two steals per game. He was also first team Northeast Lakes All-District for Division I.
His ability to knife through the defense off the dribble, paired with his sharpshooting and passing, helped Lakeside stay undefeated in county games for the second straight season and capture a 12-5 record.
Newsome knew Ford was a special player when he saw him in an open gym as a sophomore.
“I knew there was something about him that was a little bit different than the rest of the kids,” Newsome said. “Even aside from his ability, he’s got that killer mentality, as far as competing. Really, it doesn’t matter if it’s basketball, kickball, anything at all. If he’s competing and he’s being challenged, Brandon wants to win.”
Following his sophomore season, Ford practiced before school started. He pioneered the 700 club, where he and his teammates would get at least 700 shot attempts up during each shooting session, sometimes before school started. They used a shooting machine to keep track of attempts and makes from different areas on the court.
He regularly showed up at 6 a.m. to get shots up and run through drills. At one point this summer, during one shooting session, he made 85 of 100 shots from the top of the arc.
Aside from Ford’s work ethic, Newsome valued his mindset in close games. Ford made sure his teammates paid close attention during timeouts and elevated his own play in key moments.
Ford scored a game-high 30 points and eight of the Dragons’ 17 points in overtime in an 88-82 win at Edgewood earlier this season.
He also stole the ball in the closing seconds of overtime to help Lakeside secure a 72-69 win against Grand River Academy earlier this month.
Ford plans to attend Akron and try to walk-on to the basketball team. He wants to major in business and later use his degree to become a bank account and eventually get into real estate.
Even though Ford broke Lakeside’s career scoring record and led the county in scoring for two consecutive seasons, he’s most proud of something else.
“I felt like I was a very coachable player,” Ford said. “You can be good, but I feel like if you’re not really coachable, people won’t remember you. I was a good teammate, and I was very coachable so I feel like people will remember me because I had a good character around everybody.”