Henry Pointer had no idea he was nearing Lebanon High‘s single-game goalscoring record in the Warriors’ 69-60 men’s basketball win at North Salem on Feb. 1.
The Warriors (7-8, 4-6 Mid-Willamette Conference) desperately needed the win to keep their playoff hopes alive and Pointer, a senior, was doing his best to pull off a win.
It worked as the Warriors won and Pointer set a new record at the same time, finishing with 46 points.
Pointer had 16 points at halftime, which is not an exceptional number for him this season. He picked up the pace after the break and that’s when it started to feel like a special night.
“There were consecutive possessions where I was scoring,” Pointer said. “I felt like I had a good game, but I wouldn’t have guessed I had the record because it was spaced out throughout the game.”
Late, the Vikings were forced into a foul and Pointer broke the record from the free throw line.
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Lebanese coach Casey VandenBos said an assistant coach alerted him when Pointer hit the 40-point mark and they realized in the last minute of the game he broke the school record.
“I knew he was scoring at a certain moment, but it wasn’t forced. He was scoring in attack, it was all in the flow,” VandenBos said.
Once the victory was sealed, VandenBos removed Pointer from the game and broke the news to him.
“I didn’t know I had broken the record until the end of the game when they told me. When I substituted, they told me,” Pointer said.
VandenBos said Pointer’s team approach was part of what made the occasion so special. The 6-foot-2 senior guard had a very effective game, making 16 of 27 field goal attempts, including 5 of 13 from 3-point range, and 9 of 12 from the free throw line.
“He had no idea. He just wants to win and wants Lebanese basketball to be the best it can be,” VandenBos said.
On Friday, Lebanon honored Pointer in a ceremony attended by Ed Neustel, the father of former record holder Mark Neustel.
Mark Neustel scored 42 points for the Warriors in a game during his senior year in 1979. Neustel went on to play at Western Baptist (now Corban University) and died suddenly of heart failure in 2006 at the age of 45.
Pointer said meeting Ed Neustel and getting to hear stories about his son was the highlight of the whole experience.
VandenBos said Pointer is a role model for all young basketball players to follow when looking to improve their games. Pointer played in junior college as a freshman and moved into a starting role in college as a sophomore.
This was partly because of the state of the program at that time. The Warriors went 0-16 in Mid-Willamette during Pointer’s freshman year, which was VandenBos’ first year as a college coach.
VandenBos was looking for talented underclassmen who could be the basis for rebuilding the program and that’s exactly what Pointer became. VandenBos said Pointer worked hard on the court to develop his skills and worked in the weight room to build strength and increase his athleticism.
The Warriors coach also values Pointer’s loyalty. He knows that Pointer could have transferred to another program, but he didn’t.
“He chose to stay in Lebanon and say, ‘I want to see this ship righted and I want to be part of the turnaround program,’” VandenBos said.
The Warriors still have seven games left in their regular season. Pointer doesn’t want this to be the end of his playing career, but he hasn’t decided where to play at the college level yet.
” That’s the point. Anything to keep playing,” Pointer said.
VandenBos said Pointer was hurt by losing a regular junior season due to the pandemic and not shipping highlight reels nationwide.
But he has no doubt that Pointer can contribute at the top level.
“Good things come to those who wait,” VandenBos said. “It will come. The right opportunity will come. … Whoever gets it will get a gold mine.