Male Athlete of the Week: Ford remaining a ‘dynamic shooter’ for Wildcats

Cameron Ford

FRONT ROYAL – Before Tony Clark accepted the head coach position for Warren County High School’s varsity boys basketball team back in the spring, he got a glimpse of one of the players he would be inheriting – junior Cam Ford – on some highlight tapes Clark was able to view online.

What Clark saw during those initial peeks at those videos from last season was a “dynamic shooter.” Seven games into the 2015-16 season, and Ford has remained exactly that for Clark and the Wildcats.

“I hadn’t experienced anything other than what I saw on film before I took the job,” Clark said at practice Monday, “but he’s certainly been a kid that we can rely on night in, night out.”

Ford, who has reprised his role as the Wildcats’ leading scorer again this season, put together a two-game performance worthy of The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week honors for Dec. 13-19. Although Warren County (2-5) lost a pair of home games to William Monroe and Skyline in that span, Ford erupted for a total of 56 points in the two games.

Both times Ford nearly carried the Wildcats to victory only to see his team come up just short in the fourth period.

“We fought a lot,” Ford said. “We fought really hard. We did everything we could, just didn’t go our way.”

Ford’s big week began in last Tuesday’s 61-53 loss to William Monroe, in which he scored 31 points, a career high. His performance, which had the Wildcats trailing the unbeaten Dragons 43-41 entering the final period, forced Monroe to turn to a box-and-one defense in the final quarter in an effort to slow Ford down. He still found a way to get to the free-throw line and score 8 of his team’s 12 points in the fourth period.

“He picks up the best defender every night and he’s just able to play through it,” Clark said. “And he has a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of intangibles he has. Defensively he’s strong. You know the numbers that he puts up in the books are the obvious things, but his leadership just being a junior, stuff like that, just those intangibles you don’t find in every kid.”

Ford was relatively quiet during the first half of last Friday’s 56-55 loss to cross-town rival Skyline before he broke out for 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half.

His outburst started when he drove into the paint and was nearly stripped of the basketball before regaining possession and hitting a bucket in the paint midway through the third period. On the Wildcats’ next possession he banked in an off-balance runner in the lane. The next time down the court, Ford connected on a very deep 3-pointer from the right wing, his first of the night.

Ford scored 12 points in the third quarter to counter Skyline’s own scoring outburst from sophomore Colin Smith (11 points in the frame).

“When the first one goes in you’re kind of just like let’s see how it’s going on the second one,” Ford said of his run. “But you’ve just gotta take your chances, honestly.”

Ford’s never been shy about taking those chances, no matter where they come on the court. Taking a page from his father, Troy, a former Warren County point guard, Ford doesn’t hesitate in taking a 25-foot jumper if he’s left unguarded.

“He’s got the green light for us to take shots just about any time except in transition,” Clark said of Ford, who hit five combined 3-pointers in the two games last week. “We tend not to let him shoot those 3’s in transition just because if he does miss there’s nobody there to rebound. That’s been the only limit and he’s played well under that philosophy of having a rebounder or two underneath when he shoots. He’s done well.”

Ford’s more than just a long-distance threat, however. He proven adept at driving into traffic, often drawing contact and getting to the free throw line.

Clark, who coached girls basketball at Fort Defiance High School in the early 2000s, said Ford reminds him of former Indians standout Heather Claytor, who went on to play college basketball for the University of North Carolina after graduating from high school in 2005.

“His ability to shoot is great and now … he’s starting to read the defenders and how they close out on him,” Clark said. “Defenders are closing out on him harder because they want him to put it on the floor because he’s such a 3-point threat, so the next phase of his game is taking the ball to the hole and finishing.”

If Ford doesn’t finish around the rim, he usually draws contact and takes advantage at the free throw line, where he was 21 for 24 last week.

“If they foul you its easy points,” Ford said.

Clark said Ford is averaging over 20 points per game through Warren County’s first seven games, but that number doesn’t mean anything to Ford unless it starts translating into wins for his team.

“We’ve gotta start winning,” Ford said of a Wildcats squad that has lost four straight. “We know we’ve got good potential on the team and we’ve just gotta play to that potential that we know we have. Stop playing down to teams’ levels and play at our level.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com