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Woodmen star named area’s top player

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Jaren Hornbeak will graduate from Greenwood Community High School this spring with diploma in hand and knowledge of nearly every defense designed to slow one basketball player.

From man-to-man to zones to zones with chasers, the 6-foot guard faced a defensive smorgasbord during the 2013-14 season.

Hornbeak didn’t merely survive to tell about it. He flourished.

The senior capped an impressive prep career by averaging 21.4 points and 7.3 rebounds — both team highs — on his way to earning The Daily Journal’s Player of the Year honors.

“I thought Jaren was very capable of playing the way he did this season. I knew he would be a marked man, but by early in the season I felt we had seen every defense we were going to see,” Greenwood coach Bruce Hensley said. “Jaren knew he had to score for us. We knew he had to score for us.

“Having the right attitude is important because you have to be patient and let the game come to you.”

Brief instances of frustration occasionally leaked into Hornbeak’s otherwise cool exterior. For the most part, however, he had matured to the point where he could take what the defense offered by either providing scoring opportunities for teammates or taking the ball strong to the basket in pursuit of points and contact.

“At times Jaren would get frustrated, but I don’t think he was frustrated with coaches and teammates,” Hensley said. “He got frustrated with himself.”

Also the Woodmen’s leader in assists (3.0), steals (1.7) and 3-pointers (58), Hornbeak’s finest hours statistically came against Speedway (31 points), Mooresville (six 3-pointers), Indian Creek (15 rebounds), Martinsville (seven assists) and Whiteland (five steals).

His steady play is evident in the fact he scored 20 or more points in 13 of Greenwood’s 21 games. Hornbeak’s season lows in points were 11 and 14.

“I felt this season I rebounded the ball better and was more consistent with my scoring. I had only a couple games where I didn’t play well. I thought this season I learned a lot about what it took to play at the next level and what my team needed from me for us to be successful,” Hornbeak said.

“Coach Hensley knew I could score, but what would I do without the basketball? In our offense there’s a lot of movement, and my coaches stayed on me about moving without the ball.”

Hornbeak’s varsity basketball career began at Tindley High School in Indianapolis, a private school where he played for the Tigers as a freshman during the 2010-11 season.

His contributions there combined with the past three seasons in a Woodmen uniform resulted in Hornbeak cracking the 1,000-point barrier with a total of 1,070.

Two locations. One memorable high school career.

Still undecided on a college, Hornbeak looks to make his choice final in the coming days.

He plans to spend his offseason working to be a more sure-handed ball-handler and improved help-side defender. Getting his 168-pound frame into the 175 range through proper diet and weightlifting remains another priority.

As for his Greenwood career, Hornbeak carried more than his share.

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