All in his family

For LaBrae basketball star Peyton Aldridge, not only does the apple fall within close proximity of the tree, it practically fell on top of it.

The junior forward, who was named to the Associated Press All-Ohio first team in Division III on Tuesday, comes from a family entrenched in sports, especially basketball, and it all starts with his mother’s side of the family.

His mother, Lisa Aldridge, is the current girls basketball coach at LaBrae and played for the Vikings before graduating in 1980. Peyton said she has helped him from a very young age.

“Ever since I was little, she’s just always out there with me shooting, helping with free throws – just stressing the key parts of the game,” Peyton said.

While listening to your mother is expected, you tend to put some more weight in her words when she’s a basketball legend at the same school you attend.

Known as Lisa Kuszmaul in high school, she set the career record for most points scored with around 1,500 points – a mark that still sits atop the leaderboard at LaBrae High School for boys and girls.

It’s this mark that Lisa challenged her son to beat coming into high school, and after Peyton eclipsed 1,000 points against Windham on Feb. 12, it seems like the likelihood has increased.

“I challenged him to (break my record),” Lisa Aldridge said. “When he hit 1,000 points, we started looking at it that this was a goal that he could obtain. If he hits it, then that’s just great, and I hope he does.”

If his mother isn’t enough, Peyton can turn to his uncle, Craig Kuszmaul.

Craig was a star for Champion, playing a key role in the Golden Flashes state runner-up finish in 1971. He went on to play basketball at North Carolina State, winning Atlantic Coast Conference championships in 1973 and 1974 and a national championship in 1974.

Along with their height (Peyton is 6 foot 7 and Craig is 6 foot 5), Peyton is like his uncle in terms of playing at the next level. Like Craig, Division I colleges are lining up left and right to sign the 17-year-old forward. Peyton has offers from nine to 10 schools, including Davidson, Boston College, many of the Mid-American Conference schools and a few Horizon League schools.

Although Craig lives in North Carolina now, the Aldridges use him for advice whenever he returns to northeastern Ohio.

“We saw that there was a lot of similarities between (Peyton) and my brother in terms of how he was developing,” Lisa Aldridge said. “We knew that Peyton was going to be that long, tall, lanky kid like Craig was.

“When he comes up, he tries to watch Peyton and gives Peyton some pointers on things he can work on. He’s been an asset, too, because he was my role model growing up.”

Craig said that he advised Peyton to play more assertive, and that’s what his nephew has done in the team’s run to the state semifinals.

“The team he’s on now is gelling at the right point,” Craig said. “They’ve been getting better and better as the season’s worn on, and Peyton’s stepped up and taken charge a little bit more. I told him that he needs to take charge a little bit more in the game and control the tempo.”

Although he seems to followed in his family’s footsteps, one thing is for certain – he’s gone farther than his mother ever went.

“When I was in high school, I always wanted to go to Columbus,” Lisa Aldridge said. “So, I told him the other night, ‘That’s one goal that you hit that I could never do.'”