By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The high school basketball season had yet to begin, but the North Arlington boys’ team was in a bit of a bind.
Two key players, Edgar Carranza and Kevin Cerqueira, were sidelined due to injuries.
It left the door open for another junior Tim Ford to step in and make a major contribution.
Ford was a member of the NA junior varsity squad a year ago.
“I learned a lot from being on the JV,” Ford said. “I just kept trying to get better. I knew I had to build up my confidence a little. I learned a lot from dealing with a lot of adversity. I wanted to do whatever I could to help the team.” Veteran coach Rich Corsetto, in his second year at North Arlington, was hopeful that Ford could step in and contribute.
“He proved to me last year that he could help us,” Corsetto said. “Timmy is a football player as well and sometimes it takes time for the football player to get going after their season is over.”
After a little bit of a sluggish start to the season, Ford has picked it up of late, especially in the last week – and especially with his proficiency from behind the 3-point circle.
“He’s unbelievable right now,” Corsetto said. “He’s stepped up tremendously.”
Ford connected on nine 3-pointers last Tuesday in a 63-54 win over Hasbrouck Heights en route to a 33-point explosion. He followed it up by connecting on five long-range shots for 15 points in a win over Wood-Ridge and added five more treys and 15 points in a 61-45 win over Montclair Immaculate last Friday night, helping the Vikings to improve to 7-4 overall.
Not bad for a kid who scored all of four varsity points last season. The three big games gave Ford seven straight con- tests where he reached double figures in scoring.
For his efforts, Ford has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Corsetto said that he’s not shocked at all by Ford’s offensive output.
“I’m really not surprised at all,” Corsetto said. “I knew that he had the ability. He works hard and he’s not a quitter. He’s a gutsy kid who does a lot with heart, desire and determination.”
Ford said that he did put a lot of time into honing his long-range shooting ability.
“I took a lot of shots to help me get better,” Ford said. “Whenever I had the chance to get better, I took advantage of it. Shooting is something that I’ve always been pretty good at. I’m lucky to have teammates who find me and get me the ball. That gives me confidence.”
Corsetto realizes Ford’s contributions to the team and how vital they have been.
“He’s been very important,” Corsetto said. “Because of what we’ve gone through with the injuries, if Timmy doesn’t make those shots, we’re in trouble. He’s really stepped up nicely. He’s also doing a nice job rebounding as well.” Corsetto noted that the undersized Ford, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs about 160 pounds, also collected seven rebounds against Hasbrouck Heights and six in each of the wins over Wood-Ridge and Montclair Immaculate.
“He’s a nice young man,” Corsetto said. “He’s a hard worker who does everything you ask him to do. No matter what it is Timmy will do it. We haven’t had a full team all year yet, so Timmy has really done a great job helping to lead us.”
Ford is averaging close to 13 points per game as the Vikings’ shooting guard. He said that he just felt comfortable shooting the ball last Tuesday against Hasbrouck Heights.
“I was feeling it,” Ford said. “The coaches told me to keep doing it, so I just kept doing the same thing. My teammates were finding ways to get me open. I was kind of surprised with what I did. It was clearly my best game. It is kind of shocking, but I just kept hitting shots.”
Ford has not stopped since, connecting on 19 3-pointers in the last three games.
“It’s definitely given me a lot of confidence moving forward,” Ford said. “I knew I was capable of doing it. But this now gives me a boost of confidence, which I needed.”
Ford is a fine receiver on the North Arlington football team as well. He can’t decide which sport he likes better or which one he thinks he excels in more.
For now, Ford doesn’t want to disrupt the good thing that’s going on.
“I just knew I had to make those shots,” Ford said. “It feels good right now. It’s good to get recognized for my hard work.”