For the last two years, I’ve been screaming into the wind that Anderson’s Tyra Ford is the most underrated girls basketball player in the state.
For whatever reason, her name was left off most preseason watch lists or top-15 lists. Maybe it was a lack of postseason success or a staggering win total for the Lady Tribe. I don’t know.
But despite a junior season when she averaged 22.7 points and 7.6 rebounds — despite missing parts of several games due to illness — Ford was left off the Indiana Junior All-Stars.
Well, the cat is out of the bag and the toothpaste is out of the tube. She’s getting noticed now. All it took was a 49-point, 18-rebound performance in a win over Richmond last week and taking the nation’s scoring lead with a 37.5-point average to get the widespread attention she has so richly deserved.
Ford started the season with a career-high 38 points in a two-point loss at Pike. She followed that up with a measly 26 points against the defending Class 4A champs from Lawrence North, 37 against Fishers and her amazing night against Richmond.
There are a couple of things to note here.
First, there is the competition level. Ford is not piling up numbers against a bunch of patsies. That’s a trend for her — not an anomaly — that started her sophomore year when she scored 26 against both North Central and Warren Central. She seems to have her biggest games against the toughest competition.
Secondly, she is not shooting the 3-point shot very well this season. She was 33% behind the arc as a junior, but is just 2-for-21 this year. Imagine when those shots start falling.
Finally, and this is no knock on her teammates, she enters every game as the sole focus of her opponents and has been for two years now. Last year, teams had to keep an eye on Erin Martin, who could really shoot it, but this year Anderson hasn’t found a consistent second scorer yet. There is potential among several younger players, but for now, it’s all about slowing Tyra.
And good luck with that.
She is also performing at this level under tremendous pressure.
Ford has to know, without her scoring, Anderson will struggle to win games. She is constantly reminded by yo-yos like me where she stands in terms of her career numbers. She is fast approaching the program’s scoring record, the 1,692 points scored by Dana Wilkerson that has stood since 1987. Even 2,000 career points is a real possibility, which puts Jodi Howell’s Madison County girls mark of 2,026 and Kojak Fuller’s overall county record of 2,060 in play.
Because of that, there will be more attention. Very soon, The Herald Bulletin won’t be the only newspaper or media outlet covering her games.
There is the added element of chasing those records in the midst of a pandemic. Aside from avoiding injury, that is the one aspect that could hinder Ford’s overall total. Any cancellation of games hurts her chances of piling up her career numbers but should do nothing to diminish where her standing among the state’s best players is.
She is more than a scorer. She is tremendous on the glass and a fantastic on-the-ball defender and shot blocker, as well as being an honors student.
I have no say in choosing the Indiana All-Star team or Miss Basketball, nor is it my job to be Tyra’s public relations director.
But, if I were in the room, I would be pounding the table until she was on that team and received proper consideration for the No. 1 jersey.