Peyton Aldridge Basketball, LaBrae (2x winner)

Ever since LaBrae senior Peyton Aldridge was a young boy, he would go to the state basketball tournament in Columbus and just watch — dreaming about one day playing in it.

After an overtime win over Ursuline in the district final and then a pair of regional tournament victories, 17-year-old Peyton was finally living his childhood dream.

“[We] really created a great bond that we’ll never forget the journey that we took,” Aldridge said of the Vikings’ 2013 season. “Just playing against a whole bunch of talented players out there — it was just a great experience overall.”

Now, one year later, that dream is in the past and there are new, bigger challenges ahead of the three-time Division III district player of the year. Aldridge is committed to play basketball for Davidson College in North Carolina, which is soon to be a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference.

“First off it’s a great academic school,” Aldridge said. “I want to get my education first and then just the players — I felt like it was a really great fit when I went down there and visited with the guys; they were very welcoming to me and I got along with the coaches great.”

What the Wildcats are getting is a 6-foot-7 swing player who can hold his own down low and create off the dribble. According to Aldridge, his parents — who are both former coaches — weren’t going to have it any other way.

“Around second or third grade I really started taking an interest in basketball,” he said. “My dad always made me work on dribbling. He said, ‘if you can dribble at a young age, especially, you can be pretty successful.’”

It also didn’t hurt that he grew four inches between eighth and ninth grade. He was 6-foot-1 when he left middle school and then over the summer he grew to 6-foot-5.

His basketball career in the Valley may have ended without a state championship, but Aldridge is happy that he could, at the very least, bring some pride back to the hardwood.

“I know we’re known for football here, but we have some talented [basketball players] here,” he said.

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