FAIRFIELD — This season, the Fairfield Eagles boys basketball team is playing some of their best basketball of late. Though this team isn’t star-studded, everyone in the rotation plays a big role with team basketball at the heart of how they operate. That being said, junior point guard Brian Ward has jump-started the offense with his unselfish play and joy for the game.
“I don’t really try to shoot that much, I try to find my open teammates first,” he said.
Just to be clear, he shoots it well but his teammate, senior Kaelob Flores, knows just how good he finds him and his teammates on the floor.
“He’ll always find the open person no matter where you’re at on the floor. If I’m on the block or out on the wing, or if anyone is on the wing really, he’ll find them,” Flores said.
The 12-4 Eagles are rolling right now nearing the postseason and one of the main catalysts behind their success is because of Ward who didn’t get the chance to help his team last season due to ineligibility. He only played one game his sophomore season and was sorely missed by head coach Jordan Ratliff and the team at the state tournament. However, this year, Ratliff is seeing the benefit of having Ward back in the lineup.
“He has pretty good peripherals seeing the entire floor, breaking someone down, the defense collapses, he kicks it out. So we’ve been able to move the ball a lot better probably better than past seasons because of Brian brings to the table in running the point guard,” Ratliff said.
The ineligibility hasn’t been the only hurdle Ward has overcome. Ward has lived with his grandparents since his mother passed away when he was in the second grade. Then, in August 2019, his father was convicted of a felony charge and sent to prison. The experiences alone would be more than enough to allow one’s self to feel like a victim but for Ward, he takes it head on.
“Every time something comes up, the adversity that he faces, he just faces it head on,” Ratliff said. “I’ve never seen him make an excuse for anything. If he has two points one night you’d think he had thirty with the way he conducts himself.”
Since beginning high school and turning himself into a gym rat, Ratliff and Ward have bonded allowing Ward to blossom as the Eagles' play-making point guard.
“I see him as like a dad to me. He pushes me through a lot, helps me with school, tells me to go get my stuff done, helps me get in the gym everyday, tells me to lift, tells me to do other sports besides basketball. He does a lot for me,” Ward said of Ratliff.
“Brian and I have a good relationship. You know he’s always listening when you talk to him and his eyes are looking into your eyes and he’s shaking his head ‘yes coach’ even if he thinks you’re wrong so it’s been great to see him blossom like he has this season,” Ratliff said.
The Eagles have one more game in conference Feb. 12 against Choteau before the postseason tournaments begin.