SPORTS HEADLINES

Leading the charge: Behind point guard, Bulls try to nail down playoff berth

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014

{{{*}}}For three years, Derrick Stanford toiled away with one goal – play in the postseason.

The Bridgeport senior could reach that goal this week with a victory over Gainesville or Krum.

Leading the Way

LEADING THE WAY – Bridgeport point guard Derrick Stanford will try to lead the Bulls into the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Bulls need a win this week to secure the fourth playoff spot out of District 9-3A. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I’m a three-year letterman and to get it done in my fourth year would be a great way to end a career,” Stanford said. “It’s what I’ve worked for and dreamed of to play in the postseason.”

The three-year varsity point guard, who took over the starting role last season, is a major reason the Bridgeport Bulls are in position to earn their first playoff spot since 2004.

Stanford leads his team, averaging 15 points and dishing out 3.8 assists per game.

“He’s been great,” said Bridgeport coach Alan Green. “He represents what we want. He’s a hard worker.

“I’ve gotten to see him since he was little. It’s been great to see him grow and develop.”

In his sophomore year, Stanford came off the bench for the Bulls and averaged 1.7 points per game. In his first season starting last year, he put in 9.5 points per game and shot 43 percent from the field.

The Bulls improved in their win totals both of those seasons but missed the playoffs.

“Each year has been a work in progress,” Stanford said.

Entering his senior year, a dedicated Stanford put extra time in the gym and weight room.

“There have been a lot of long hours in the spring, and summer to get ready,” Stanford said. “I’ve really focused on getting stronger so I’m not getting pounded by the bigger guys.”

Green said the added strength has helped Stanford.

“He’s really taken the weight room seriously and his body has really changed,” Green said.

The added strength has helped Stanford get to the basket more this season.

While playing the point guard role, he is not the typical pass-first and distribute the ball type. He is always looking to attack and score himself.

“I have a scorer’s mentality,” he admitted. “Coach doesn’t always like my decisions. But my main role is to lead the team. If my shots aren’t falling, I’m happy to get the ball to the other guys and hit shots.

“I don’t want the spotlight. These guys deserve the credit. They tell me to keep shooting, driving the lane and getting hammered.”

Green agrees that Stanford is more of a shooter than distributor. But the coach is quick to point out that he does more than the stats show.

“This year, he’s really limited his turnovers and taken care of the ball,” Green said. “He does a lot that you don’t see in the stats.”

The only statistic Stanford is worried about this week is getting the victories to get in the playoffs.

“We’ve put in all this time to be in this position,” Stanford said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it and leave a legacy to build on.”

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