GREENFIELD — When Tate Hall shoots around during practice, the Greenfield-Central senior prefers to start at the rim before he drops back gradually.
Most of the time, each left-handed jumper falls through at around 90 percent efficiency, if not better, though he rarely keeps count.
The more eye-popping statistic for the 6-foot-5 guard, he said, isn’t calculated on the floor. It stares him down the farther his radius increases.
Story continues below gallery
“Thinking about it, 18 years is crazy,” said Hall referring to the blue and gold banner hanging on the gymnasium wall, highlighting the program’s seven sectional titles and most recent in 1998.
“We really want that sectional. We want to have a special season,” Hall continued. “It’s my last year, and it’s something I really want to get; 18 years.”
Hall and his teammates know all about crunching numbers.
A math teacher at the high school, head coach Michael Lewis makes equations an everyday topic. The Cougars’ unofficial motto is “32,” meaning play hard from start to finish — every minute of every game.
That wasn’t always the case at Greenfield-Central, though.
During Hall’s freshman and sophomore seasons, wins proved a hurdle despite his incremental hikes in production.
Increasing from 6.0 points per game to 14.8, Hall’s point totals jumped from 127 to 241, but the Cougars still posted back-to-back five-win totals until Lewis took over the boys basketball team in 2014.
In Lewis’ first year, the wins doubled to 10 while Hall’s contributions surged to 389 points and 15.6 on average.
A primary reason for the progression, the two-time Hoosier Heritage Conference first team selection says, is purpose.
“Coach Lewis’ philosophy has really helped us, the way he teaches us and believes in us. We really bought into it,” Hall said. “This summer we all really worked hard, and I think that was the X-factor. It’s our work ethic. We believe we can win.”
Sitting at 18-4 on the year with nine straight victories prior to their regular-season finale at home against Plainfield, the Cougars have already ended one long-standing drought, securing the team’s first winning record since going 15-6 in 2003-04.
Now, their chasing a school-record 20-plus wins — with both the present and future in mind.
“They want to leave a legacy,” Lewis said. “They wanted to change the culture that they were going to work every single day and stop hoping to win and start expecting to win. They’ve met that head on.”
The driving force behind their success boils down to seven, the number of senior leaders on the roster with four in the starting lineup.
Hall, Gage Mann, Blake Robertson, Drey Jameson and Jack VanDuyn have played together since the third grade. Chandler Bean joined the group three years later, and Kirill Schoellman moved in last season.
“The nice part about this group is they’re all best friends,” Lewis said. “That’s allowed us to have a lot of team chemistry, and these guys are committed to each other because none of them want to be the letdown guy.
“That’s when you have a chance to have a special year.”
Bean, who coach Lewis playfully calls the “Energizer Bunny” powers the team with nearly five assists per game.
Robertson, a Hanover College commit, is the second leading scorer with 11.1 points on average, shooting 38 percent from 3-point range (33 of 87), but Hall is the undisputed leader inside and out.
“He doesn’t care about the points. He doesn’t care about the accolades. The only thing that matters to him is his teammates and the team being successful,” Lewis said. “It starts with him. He’s really brought a lot of the others guys along, especially that senior group.”
A University of Indianapolis recruit, Hall came into his final campaign up to the task after elevating his game last summer with his AAU team Grassroots Indiana.
Hall collected college offers from Northern Kentucky, Maryville in St. Louis and gained interest from Nova Southeastern, Northern Illinois, UNC-Greensboro and Western Illinois, among others.
Putting his college plans to rest by signing with UIndy last November, Hall admits the weight lifted immediately, allowing him to focus on what’s important.
“When I’m out there, I’m trying to win. I just want the team to reach it’s full potential and get to the top,” said Hall, who volunteered to give up his starting spot to VanDuyn on senior night. “We’re all best friends. All the seniors are really close. I’m not worried about me. I’m just trying to win and make some memories.”
So far, he’s made plenty, along with cementing his name in the record books.
At 1,161 points scored in his career, Hall is fourth on the school’s all-time list behind Rhett Reed (1,369) and broke the 1,000-point plateau against Shelbyville on Jan. 23, the second win during the Cougars’ recent streak.
He’s hit 37 3-pointers in 96 attempts this year and carries 176 in his career, which is three shy of tying John Hamilton (1999-2000) for another program mark.
More than a perimeter threat, Hall is averaging 18.4 points and 7.9 rebounds and has seven double doubles in addition to seven games with 23 points or more.
“I’m getting to the rim a lot more this year, which I really worked on this summer. I always knew I could shoot it, but I improved my skill development and ball handling. Those two areas have really helped,” he said. “I like to do it all. I don’t want to have a label as just a shooter.”
Instead, he would prefer to be known as a sectional champion, cutting down the nets next Saturday in New Castle.
“Honestly, it would mean a lot to all of the seniors,” Bean said. “That’s all we ever talk about, getting another one to put on that banner.”
3: Tate Hall is only three 3-pointers shy of tying John Hamilton on the all-time career list at 179, set in 1999-2000.
4: Where Tate Hall ranks on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,161 points. Rhett Reed is third at 1,369.
7: Games this season Tate Hall has scored 23 points or more. He also has seven double doubles this year. Coincidentally, the number of seniors on the Greenfield-Central’s roster.
19: The point total Tate Hall put up against Shelbyville on Jan. 23 as he surpassed the 1,000-point plateau.
9: The number of games Greenfield-Central has won consecutively heading into the regular-season finale.
5: Greenfield-Central posted back-to-back five-win seasons before coach Michael Lewis steered the team to 10 wins in 2014-15 after taking over the program.
1: The Cougars nearly tied the program’s single-game record for 3-pointers against South Ripley on Dec. 29, falling one bucket short with 12 made.
The Senior Seven
No., Name, Pos., Ht.
• Stats: 18.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.3 spg
• Stats: 11.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.3 apg
• Stats: 5.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.9 apg
• Stats: 8.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg
• Stats: 1.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 spg
# varsity starter