Warriors’ Pointer honored after setting school hoops record

By Benny Westcott
Of Lebanon Local
Lebanon High School senior Henry Pointer describes LeBron James as his favorite basketball player, because he’s “the greatest of all time.”
On Feb. 1, Pointer himself became the greatest in Lebanon hoops history when the 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior guard and team captain scored the most points ever in a single Warrior game.

HENRY POINTER holds the game ball from his record-setting game.

His 46 points on the road propelled his team (7-9, ranked No. 21 in Class 5A play) to a 69-60 win over the North Salem Vikings (6-13), a team that had previously beaten Lebanon 74-57 on Dec. 21.
The high mark propelled Pointer into the record books, topping Mark Neustel’s longstanding 44-point performance over – get this – North Salem in 1979.
“It’s a great feat,” LHS Athletic Director Kraig Hoene said. “We’ve had some guys who could score the basketball. Forty-three-year-old records are that old because they are hard to beat.”
Pointer shot 59% from the field in his historic game, going 16-for-27 overall, 5-for-12 on 3-pointers, and 9-for-12 from the free-throw line – an important statistic, as will be seen later. He also pulled down six rebounds and made his presence known on defense with four steals.
Head Coach Casey VandenBos, who started coaching the Warriors during Pointer’s freshman year, spoke of his prolific guard’s offensive versatility.
“I think he understands where he’s going to get his points,” VandenBos said. “If guys are going to sag off of him, he has space to shoot. If guys pressure him, he’s strong and physical and fluid and can drive. He can create space and knows angles, and is efficient with movement.”
“He can score at all three levels,” Hoehne added. “Post, the midrange game, and catch-and-shoot threes.”
Pointer has had a knack for putting the ball in the hoop since his youth, facing off against cousins and friends at Lebanon’s Century Park.

GETTING LOTS of defensive attention from Central opponents, Pointer puts up a shot over the top.

“He’s always been able to shoot the basketball,” Hoene said. “But he’s worked hard at diversifying his game.”
He cited the senior’s ball-handling and ability to finish through contact.
Pointer began his LHS career as a “swing” player, splitting time between junior varsity and varsity action as a freshman. The next season, he asserted himself as a more physical presence on court.
“As a freshman he was tiny,” VandenBos recalled. “As a sophomore, he probably added 50 pounds of just muscle.”
Playing solely on the varsity squad that year, Pointer averaged 6.7 points per game. During the following COVID-19-shortened season, Pointer increased that number to 18.1, an offensive breakthrough. This year he’s improved to 22. He had fine-tuned his game last offseason, joining The PAC Salem AAU team, where he played as a starter. That gave him an opportunity to face higher-level competition, playing tournaments in Las Vegas and California, as well as Salem and Portland.
“Everyone sees the end result,” VandenBos said. “No one sees what he was doing in the offseason.”
All of that experience led to Pointer becoming a Feb. 1 nightmare for North Salem, as well as for other teams on Lebanon’s schedule.
Despite knowing Pointer had 40 points with two minutes remaining against the Vikings, the coach didn’t emphasize getting the ball to his high-scoring guard down the stretch.
“I always respect the basketball gods, in that sense,” VandenBos said. “Any time you start forcing something … ”
Pointer was fouled with less than a minute left, then knocked down his free throws to reach 42.
“At that point, I got giddy and kind-of excited,” VandenBos said. “The only other time I was a part of something like this was when a guy had 48 while I was a player at Lane Community College.”

HENRY POINTER stands with Ed Neustel, father of the late Mark Neustel, who set the record in 1979 that Henry broke.

Soon Pointer was fouled again and returned to the line, sinking both free throws to tie Mark Neustel’s 43-year-old mark before going back to the line to surpass it, at 46.
When VandenBos hugged Pointer afterward and told him of his achievement, the scoring sensation didn’t know he’d broken the record.
“That speaks to his character,” the coach said. “He was focused on winning a game.”
“That moment was pretty cool,” Pointer said. “I followed Coach’s game plan. My teammates gave me the ball when I was open, and I hit shots.”
LHS Principal Craig Swanson, who attended the game, said he couldn’t remember one forced Pointer shot.
“He doesn’t necessarily hunt his shot,” Hoene said. “It comes out of the flow of the offense. He’s an all-around team player.”
Of Pointer’s well-earned status as team captain, the AD said, “He’s accepted that role. A lot of kids are afraid of the moment, but he has a competitive drive and at the same time the ability to look at his teammates and say, ‘Hey, I got you.’ “He’s a great student and a high-character kid who cares for other people.”
Hoene added that Pointer’s a role model for up-and-coming Warriors.
“Watching him with the younger kids is amazing,” he said.
“It’s great to see it happening to the right kid,” VandenBos said. “I can’t ask for a better kind of kid to get the record.”

LOOKING for an open teammate, Pointer moves cross-court.

Of course, in a team sport, others deserve credit too. VandenBos said he told Pointer, “Your teammates are what helped you get 46. Henry’s the wolf, but we are only as good as the pack.”
While Pointer, who’s also an outfielder on the baseball team, says he’d like to play college basketball after graduating, he hasn’t received any offers yet.
“He’s been flying under the radar,” VandenBos said. “If someone picks him up they’ll get somebody who knows how to score, has no ego, and leads with his actions and vocally when he needs to. When he speaks, people listen. No one questions Henry if he says something to you, because he goes hard every practice.”
For now, the senior just wants to help his team win games, and he knows how he can do that. “My role on the team is to score,” Pointer said.
And on Feb. 1, he did just that – more than any Warrior before him.