Millville guard steps up his game

Khaliq Ford hit six treys and scored 24 points Thursday.
Khaliq Ford hit six treys and scored 24 points Thursday.
Posted: January 19, 2014

Khaliq Ford grabbed a ball off the rack and walked it to the right wing behind the three-point line.

The Millville senior took a dribble before he launched an outside shot before his game Thursday at Buena. After his shot rimmed out, he slowly walked underneath the rim, waited for a ball to bounce his way, and then walked back outside the three-point line at another spot on the floor.

Surrounded by teammates who worked on free throws and a variety of shots around the court, Ford kept firing from long distance. At one point, he even lifted his right foot and threw himself off-balance while shooting to avoid his momentum's placing him inside the arc.

By the time the game started, Ford was ready. The first time he touched the ball, the 5-foot-8 guard quickly launched a straightaway three, which he drained for his first of six treys on the night en route to 24 points in a 78-44 win.

Ford's routine is something he started this season after he spent all summer working on his perimeter shooting. After Bishop Evans and Rashon Sorrell - the team's two best outside shooters - graduated, Ford knew someone had to step up in their place. He went to the gym and fired up as many as 70 shots each morning.

"Somebody had to step up and shoot, and I guess it was me," said Ford, who is sixth in New Jersey with 31 threes in eight games this season after making only 13 in his sophomore and junior seasons. "I just had to add it to my game. I was quick already, so I just had to add the shot."

"I'd probably like him to take it to the basket a little more, but it's hard to complain when he's shooting the way he is," Millville coach Michael Jones said.

Ford, who has averaged 21.5 points per game, has led Millville to a 7-1 record, and his shot is helping his teammates.

"It opens up our whole offense," Ford said. "Once they start closing down on me, I can drive and then kick out to my teammates and get easier points."

Ford slowly works through his warm-ups. He walks the ball behind the three-point line. When he misses, he walks to find a rebound at a leisurely pace. His calm demeanor and deliberate nature show up in games, and it helps him get open.

Millville plays an up-tempo style, often sprinting down the court off a rebound and playing an aggressive, full-court press after made baskets.

As his teammates will create chaos with their speed, Ford slowly works up the floor and waits for the defense to become distracted so he can pick an open spot on the floor.

He shows off his quickness when attacking the basket or in Millville's press, but otherwise uses a change of pace to catch opponents unprepared.

"As soon as they lose track of me, I just pick a spot on the floor," Ford said with a laugh. "I just try to catch them off guard."

That became increasingly difficult throughout the game against Buena. Ford scored 21 in the first half and received more attention before he left the lopsided game late in the third quarter. If Ford keeps shooting the way he has, it won't be easy for him to avoid attention.


ncarroll@phillynews.com

@NickJCarroll

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