One of the area’s best-kept secrets was in action this past weekend at Horizon’s Edge.
The HHBA Lightning, part of the Harrisonburg High School Basketball Association and a competitive organization competing on the local boys basketball scene, was on the court this past weekend as part of the Virginia Home School Athletic Association state tournament, which was held at the multi-use sports facility in northern Harrisonburg.
The two-day event started near midday on Friday and concluded late Saturday night. There was a boys and girls champion crowned, and the Lightning were one of two teams that advanced to the championship game at the weekend’s end.
Second-seeded HHBA ultimately fell to the top-seeded James River Eagles 45-31 in the championship game — a scoreless fourth quarter was enough to doom the Harrisonburg squad — but it still put together a solid all-around weekend and showed off its talent.
In their opener on Friday, the Lightning defeated the seventh-seeded Spirit Warhawks 52-45 behind an awe-inspiring shooting performance from beyond the arc.
Leading the way for HHBA was Jackson Lockard, who hit four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 30, while teammate Liam Velker added 10 points, including three 3s.
“Liam has been sick and he struggled this tournament because of it,” Lightning head coach Lane Lockard said. “His defense was great, especially considering his health.”
Chris Campbell also received praise from Lockard for stepping up throughout the weekend, including nine points in the tournament-opening win, while 6-foot-2 forward Joel Chavez served as the team’s top defender and rebounder through all three games.
On Saturday, the Lightning earned a win over the Loudoun County Patriots, the No. 3 seed in the tournament and a team filled with intelligent, skilled, and disciplined players.
“I thought it was our best defensive effort of the year,” Lockard said. “To hold them to 38 points is impressive. Their game plan was to limit [Velker’s] points, slow [Jackson Lockard] as best they could and force [Campbell] and Joseph Wilson to beat them.”
The Patriots’ game plan didn’t work, as Jackson Lockard exploded once again, hitting nine 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 36 points, while Campbell had his best game of the entire season with 20 points, including six made 3s in the impressive win.
“Liam and Jackson defended their two leading scorers and they did a great job,” Lane Lockard said. “Joel Chavez was great in the middle with rebounding, being physical.”
The title game was a low-scoring affair late Saturday evening, with both offenses struggling and the fatigue from a recent bout with illness finally dragging the Lightning.
Velker finished with 12 points in that 14-point loss, while Jackson Lockard had nine, but the team couldn’t do much else outside of that and ultimately came up short.
“I have never seen so many balls go halfway down and pop out,” Lane Lockard said. “I thought both teams’ defenses were very good. They are athletic and physical, and they made it very hard for us to finish at the basket. We completely died in the second half.”
After recently dealing with an illness that forced the team to miss practice time and preparation, it was unknown how HHBA would fare at the state tournament.
But after a runner-up performance that showed off how much young talent the squad features, the program can no longer be considered Harrisonburg’s best-kept secret.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Lane Lockard said. “We battled hard through sickness and injury, and we fell just short of our goal.”
Written By: Cody Elliot, Staff Writer