Averaging a whopping 20.8 points per game, Ben Seaman is the Mid-Columbia Conference’s regular-season scoring champion, which is a testament to the Hanford High School standout’s work ethic.
“It’s nice,” Seaman said of being the scoring champ. “It kind of shows that hard work pays off. But definitely I’d rather have some wins to get along in the playoffs; that’d mean a lot more.”
The 6-foot-4 senior guard sealed the conference’s scoring title with a 29-point performance Saturday in a regular season-finale loss to conference champion Richland. Seaman was just three points shy of his career-best scoring output, and did it against a Bombers’ squad that features the MCC’s Nos. 2 and 3 scorers — senior Tyler Kurtz (19.4 points per game entering Monday’s game vs. Walla Walla) and sophomore Cole Northrop (18.4).
Hanford (5-15, 5-9) hosts Pasco in a bi-district play-in game at 6 p.m. Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the double-elimiation MCC-GSL playoffs. With the season still ongoing, Seaman hasn’t had much time to reflect on his career as a Falcon, but the sun could be starting to set on his senior campaign.
“It’s weird. I’ve been a part of this program since I was a freshman, so it’s gonna be weird leaving it,” Seaman said. “I’ve had a great four years.”
Seaman said he started to earn recognition as one of the top up-and-coming players in the area when he was in seventh grade. Since he was armed with one of the most deadly jump shots in the conference from the moment he set foot in the Hanford gymnasium, Seaman was an easy choice as a starter, even as a freshman, Falcons coach Paul Mayer said.
But what allowed Seaman to become the most dynamic scorer in the Mid-Columbia, and what could have him graduate as the second-leading scorer in Hanford’s history — he enters Tuesday’s game with 1,059 points, just behind No. 2 Admir Beribak, who graduated in 2005 — has been the development of the rest of his game, Mayer said, and in particular his ability to pull up in traffic and make tough shots.
“We tell people all the time, if you want to be an offensive threat you have to have multiple games,” Mayer said. “He’s had the perimeter game, but what’s helped him a lot is that he’s a lot stronger than he used to be ... and his strength, especially in his upper body, allows him to deal with all the banging, the guys all over him. He’s getting doubled regularly.
“He can beat people off the perimeter, he can beat them off the dribble. He’s a much better driver than when we met him. He’s better in the post. He’s a really good free-throw shooter.”
That development could have been stifled this year, as a knee injury suffered at the end of his junior year sidelined Seaman until the first week of practice this season.
“He was around us all summer, but I didn’t seem him play between March and try-out day,” Mayer said. “He didn’t start playing up-and-down basketball until like three days before the season started.”
And yet he came back better than ever, scoring over 130 points more than he had at this time last year while continueing to develop the finer points of his game.
“I’d say (I want to be known as) a kid who really worked hard, was really coachable and just put in a lot of effort,” Seaman said.
Seaman said he’s keeping his options open about playing small-college basketball, and that he’s interested in studying business.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
In order for Hanford to get past Pasco in the play-in, and then find some success in the postseason, two things will likely have to happen.
▪ The Falcons will have to play better defensively. They’ve given up an MCC-high 68.8 points per game this season; not so surprising because Hanford is one of the youngest teams in the conference with just four upperclassmen and five sophomores on the roster. “We’ll have good moments, but then we have too many breakdowns. And we can’t have any breakdowns this week at all,” Mayer said.
▪ They must find some more balance in their scoring. Hanford ranks fourth in the conference in points per game with 59.5, but more than a third of that comes from Seaman.
Connor Woodward (averaging 10.8 points per game) and Andrew Lanning (9.5) could provide a solution to the latter of those issues.
When Seaman scored four points in a loss to Chiawana on Friday while battling a wrist injury, Lanning scored a season-high 20 points and Woodward had 14 to lead the Falcons.
“We’re gonna need it all to come together for us on offense,” Mayer said. “We’re gonna need big weeks out of our guys that can score, for sure.”
MCC-GSL 4A REGIONAL: Hanford at Pasco, 6 p.m., loser out; University at Lewis & Clark, 7:30 p.m., loser out
MCC-GSL 3A REGIONAL: Game 1: Rogers at Southridge, 5:45 p.m.
MCC-GSL 4A REGIONAL: Mead at University, 5:30 p.m., loser out; Hanford at Pasco, 6 p.m., loser out
MCC-GSL 3A REGIONAL: Game 1: Shadle Park at Kennewick, 6 p.m., loser out
CWAC 2A DISTRICT: Game 1: Toppenish at East Valley, 7 p.m., loser out; Game 2: Ephrata at Selah, 7 p.m., loser out
MCC-GSL 4A REGIONAL: Game 1: Chiawana at Ferris, 6 p.m.; Game 2: GSL 4/5 at Richland, 6 p.m.; Game 3: Central Valley at Walla Walla,
6 p.m.; Game 4: Hanford at Gonzaga Prep, 6 p.m.
MCC-GSL 4A REGIONAL: Game 1: Walla Walla at Gonzaga Prep, 5 p.m.; Game 2: GSL 4/5 at Chiawana,
6 p.m.; Game 3: Lewis & Clark at Richland, 6 p.m.; Game 4: Pasco at Central Valley, 6 p.m.