GREENFIELD — For three seasons, Lukas Haworth rolled up his sleeves to help build something special at Greenfield-Central High School.
Now, after being named the Cougars’ new varsity boys basketball coach, Haworth is eager to continue the trend he and former head coach Michael Lewis in 2014-15.
“I take very seriously what we started here, and I was proud to be a part of it with Michael,” Haworth said. “It’s not just about continuing what he started, but it’s taking it to the next level. I owe it to these boys, this community and to him as well because of the work he put in.”
An afterthought for a decade, the program’s culture shift was evident in the win-loss column as Greenfield-Central strung together double-digit victories the past three campaigns.
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In Haworth’s first year as a varsity assistant and junior varsity coach, Lewis’ program turned in a 10-15 season. In 2015-16, the Cougars’ varsity team, with Haworth on staff, tied a school record with 20 wins. This past winter, the team reached the sectional semifinals for a second straight season to finish with a 12-13 record.
With the resignation of Lewis this spring to accept a head coaching position at Western High School, the door opened for Haworth to pick up the torch, and he was the ideal candidate to step in, Greenfield-Central athletics director Jared Manning said.
One of 10 interviewed for the job through the first-round of the hiring process, Manning said, Haworth moved into the final four before being offered the position. He was officially approved by the Greenfield-Central Community School Corp. board earlier this month.
“He did a very nice job of laying out how he was going to move our program forward, and we appreciated that. We look forward to seeing what he does,” Manning said. “The knowledge that he has of how we operate, our feeder program, the knowledge of our players, our expectations and our school culture, and being a teacher in the corporation were all positives.”
While serving as a varsity assistant at Greenfield-Central for three years, Haworth spent the past season as the eighth-grade boys head coach at the junior high. He worked extensively with the Greenfield-Central Youth Boys Basketball League during that time and is entering his fourth year as an eighth-grade social studies teacher.
“He brings a lot to the table, and we’re excited about it. We can’t wait to see and hear how the program continues to grow. I know they had a really good camp at DePauw this past weekend and played really well, so things are going well,” Manning said.
The situation is a perfect fit, remarked Haworth, who graduated from Southridge High School in 2004.
Playing for his father and long-time coach, Tim Haworth, at Southridge as a teenager, Lukas moved onto Franklin College, where he competed as a distance runner for the cross-county and track teams.
In his time at Franklin College, he was a student-assistant under men’s basketball head coach Kerry Prather while earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary education.
His first coaching position was at Waldron Junior-Senior High School, where he led the junior high team in 2008-09 before serving as a varsity assistant and junior varsity coach for three years at Paoli High School.
In 2012-13, he worked as a varsity assistant at New Castle High School, which led to his first head coaching position at North Putnam in 2013-14. The Cougars finished 11-11 under Haworth’s guidance and reached the sectional semifinals.
“To tell you the truth, none of those situations were places that I meant to leave. It’s just opportunities presenting themselves. Each one was a step up, and it was opportunities I couldn’t pass up,” Haworth said. “Plus, the job at New Castle and now Greenfield got us back around the Indy area, which is where we want to be.”
Haworth, his wife Carrie and son Landon, 3, welcome the stability. The Cougars’ new head man is also embracing the chance to build his own coaching legacy, following in his father’s footsteps.
“My dad was a head coach for about 25 years, so it’s a family tradition,” Haworth said. “He has over 300 wins, so I got to see how to handle both the basketball side of things and the family aspect, how to be a great coach and a great father at the same time.”
Tim Haworth coached at Mitchell High School after leaving Southridge. He stepped away from head coaching recently, but not from the game, working as an assistant the past two years at West Washington with head coach Sean Smith.
Haworth and Smith have led the Class A Senators to back-to-back sectional titles and a regional championship in 2015-16.
“I got to see the game from a different perspective playing for my dad, but at the same time wanted to be the best player I could be,” Lukas Haworth said. “I had the fortune to be on some great teams in high school. My last two years, we were ranked in the top 10 in 2A.”
Haworth wants to bring the same success to Greenfield-Central, which made a late charge in the 2016-17 postseason, shocking heavily favored Pendleton Heights in the first round of sectional 64-57 in double overtime this past February.
“That’s definitely something you build off of. We’re bringing back a great group of core players who went through that experience, went through that fire in the first part of the season and saw results from that effort the second half,” Haworth said. “We were ready to hit the ground running in June, and it’s only going to help us more come November.”
Greenfield-Central returns 6-foot-6 wing Will O’Connor, who had a breakout campaign in his junior season. O’Connor led the Cougars with 381 points, which was third-best in the county.
He averaged 15.3 points per game and was elected to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference first team. He received All-State honorable mention honors from the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.
Along with O’Connor, the team will turn to fellow incoming seniors Matt Turner, Brian Long and others, including players Haworth has mentored personally at the junior high level.
The goal, Haworth said, is to sustain and exceed expectations on the court set in place by Lewis, while making a positive imprint on his players.
“I saw my dad have so much passion about not just winning basketball games, but the impact he had on players’ lives,” Haworth said. “To grow up and see that each and every day was important, so whenever we talk about the legacy my dad left as a coach to me, it’s yes, I want to be as successful as him and I want the effort we put in to show on the win-loss record.
“More important than that I want the guys I’m coaching to come back and tell players in my system about the positive impacts we have had on their lives.”