Boys Basketball: Hoofkin, Warriors continue early-season surge

Every day. The same sour taste.

“All summer I’d wake up and remember that I only scored 13 points last year,” Harrison Hookfin said. “That was the number I focused on. That drove me.”

Relegated to an average of 3.6 minutes per game as a 6-foot-1 junior, Hookfin averaged 0.9 points and 0.8 rebounds last season for a Lebanon team that finished seven games below .500. He didn’t see the court at all in eight games.

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Friday, as a 6-6 senior, Hookfin helped the undefeated Warriors continue their impressive evolution with a 49-44 win over visiting Beavercreek in a Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover game at Lebanon High School.

The Warriors improved to 5-0. Beavercreek dropped to an uncharacteristic 0-4 for the second time in three years.

Lebanon started 1-8 last season and didn’t claim its fifth win until Feb. 10.

Hookfin’s ascent matches that of his teams.

“High school basketball is all about seniors and last year (Hookfin) played behind our two leading scorers (both seniors),” Lebanon head coach Kevin Higgins said. “It’s helped that he’s grown about five inches since then and lost some weight, but he put in a ton of work and really performed this summer. I didn’t know if we’d get this, but we tell the kids when you work hard, good things happen.”

Hookfin’s improvement was rapid.

He scored 28 points in the season opener at Fairborn and added 25 in a road win at Northmont. Averaging 19 points and 9.5 rebounds entering Friday, Hookfin scored the Warriors first four baskets as the hosts built an 8-3 lead. Lebanon never trailed. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

“The first scrimmage this year (against Anderson) we told him he had to finish inside and he has,” Higgins said. “We don’t teach a lot of moves down there, we just focus on making layups. He does that.”

Said Hookfin, whose shooting 63-percent from the floor (39-of-62): “Every day I’d start workouts with finishes at the rim. I knew that was going to be a big thing.”

Defense, depth and sophomore point guard Brendan Lamb are three more significant ingredients for Lebanon, which leads the GWOC National East at 2-0.

Creek managed 21 points through three quarters and found itself down 36-21 with 4:30 left in the fourth. The visitors unleashed an onslaught to close.

Led by sophomore Chris Herbert, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and 16 total, Creek went on a 13-0 run over the span of 88 seconds to cut the deficit to 36-34 with 3:08 to play. Creek trailed 40-38 with 1:48 to go, but could never tie or take the lead.

Lebanon hit 11-of-14 free throws in the final 2:31.

Lamb scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. He was nine-of-10 from the free throw line and caused constant havoc for 94-feet.

“He started a bunch of games as freshman for us and he’s got some experience,” Higgins said. “He’s a competitive kid who loves to make to plays.”

Said Hookfin: “His potential is through the roof.”

Junior post Zach Huffman added 13 for Lebanon.

Jon Allesandro had nine points for Creek, which faced its fourth undefeated team. The Beavers have lost to teams (Lebanon, Wayne, Butler and Springfield) that are a combined 16-0.

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