Boys basketball

Hebron's Hanaway raises his basketball game

2013-12-26T18:00:00Z 2013-12-27T02:35:12Z Hebron's Hanaway raises his basketball gameJim Peters james.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
December 26, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

After two years of playing three sports, Bryce Hanaway reached a fork in the road.

A varsity runner on Hebron's cross country team, the Hawks junior opted to give up the sport to concentrate on basketball.

"I had to make the choice of being good in three sports or being a great player in one," Hanaway said. "I originally started running cross country to condition for basketball. I missed it. I missed the guys, but I wanted to focus on my favorite sport, which is basketball."

In lieu of running, Hanaway spent his time playing hoops and lifting weights, gaining 20 pounds of muscle and dramatically transforming his game. A modest scorer and weak defender a year ago, he now leads the Hawks in scoring (17.7 points per game) and is a perimeter stopper on defense.

"Last year, guys could really get into him. Now, it's almost the other way," Hebron coach John Steinhilber said. "He's also not getting pushed around, taking the ball to the hole. He's got a stronger approach."

Though just 5-foot-9, Hanaway is averaging close to eight free throws a game.

"In previous years, I'd get in the lane, throw up a double clutch and get lucky once in a while," he said. "Now, I can take it hard and score or get to the line. My sophomore year, I'd get the guy (on defense) no one heard of, one of the worst players. Now, I'm looked on to guard the best players, to shut them down."

Sporting a regal Twitter handle, @King_Hanaway has never been one to doubt himself. He showed it as a freshman, when he hit a game-winning 3 on junior varsity against Kouts before a packed house and started on the baseball team that went to semistate. That swagger has now reached another level.

"I've always been a confident player," Hanaway said. "I like to have the ball in my hands, for sure. Now the game's kind of slowed down for me. I see things differently. My sophomore year, when I wasn't scoring, I'd try to rush. Now I let the game come to me. If it's me scoring or getting the guys the ball in position to score, it's a big trust thing now with Stein."

The combination of scoring and assists (more than 5 per game) reminds Steinhilber of Damon Wallace, the point guard on the 2012 sectional champion team.

"No. 1, I told (Hanaway) his assists had to go up. I haven't discussed scoring with him at all," Steinhilber said. "He tries to be patient, to pick his spots. If you're going to be a scoring point guard, there's no one I've ever been around better than Damon."

Hanaway guarded Wallace in practice as a frosh, and with Wallace now an assistant coach, he benefits from his daily tutelage. Hanaway's mom, Debbie, tapes games, and Bryce breaks them down with his dad, Al, and Wallace.

"It's like having an extra coach with me all the time," Hanaway said. "Damon's been through it. If Stein tells me something I may not understand, he can always put it into words to help me."

With just one senior on the roster, Hanaway has emerged as a leader for Hebron, which has won four of five road games. Steinhilber credits him for organizing the team for pick-up ball.

"We didn't have the best season, so Tony (Rose) and I wanted to make sure it was different," Hanaway said. "It's a group that's pretty special with their work ethic. We've never had it, even with the sectional team. We're good friends. After games, we're together. In the offseason, we're together. I'm excited to see what we can do. It was cool to experience that (as a freshman). As an upperclassmen, I'm looking forward to being that go-to guy."

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