Thursday, March 22, 2012
NHSI preview: La Lumiere
By Ronnie Flores
Team: No. 6 seed La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 25-2, No. 23 (No. 4 in the Midwest)
Head Coach: Alan Huss (48-11 at La Lumiere, 109-49 career record)
Raphael Davis The 6-foot-5 wing makes La Lumiere go on the perimeter. A Purdue recruit ranked No. 90 in the ESPNU 100, Davis is averaging 22.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Huss mentioned Davis as the team's rock; they struggle when he's not in the lineup. When La Lumiere needs a bucket, they look for Davis. He plays well in transition and also excels in the half court game La Lumiere prefers.
Hanner Perea The Columbia native has improved by leaps and bounds since he first arrived at Culver Academics (Culver, Ind.) to get an American education and learn the game. Perea, ranked No. 70 in the ESPNU 100, is 6-foot-8, 220 pounds and especially tough to knock off his base defensively. His offensive skills are coming along, but he's still enough of a scoring threat to put down 14 points to go along with 11 rebounds per game. Perea's scoring numbers were 2-3 points higher two-thirds of the way through the season, but he battled nagging injuries down the stretch. The time off might be a hindrance, but a healthy Perea could be the difference if La Lumiere advances past the first game.
Antonio Drummond This two-year starting guard is the quarterback for La Lumiere's offense. In a lineup that changed more than once during the season, this Southern Illinois recruit was the steady performer. Drummond is not the most athletic guard around, but he tends to make clutch plays when La Lumiere is in need. Averaging 13 points per game, Drummond could be the catalyst to get the Lakers over the hump in that all-important first game.
Road to NHSI:
The Lakers successfully beefed up their schedule in their quest to take the program to a national level. In early December, La Lumiere took on Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) at the Marshall County Hoopfest in Kentucky and lost 77-59. Davis wasn't 100 percent in that game. He attempted two field goals and finished with zero points.
Huss makes no excuses for the loss: "They were better than us that day, they didn't turn the ball over."
Right before Christmas the Lakers lost to Elgin (Elgin, Ill.) 40-34 after opening the game completely flat. La Lumiere fell behind 15-2, Elgin slowed the game down and the Lakers never recovered. At that point, they weren't on the FAB 50 map, but that changed when they defeated top seed Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) in their next game, 67-66.
La Lumiere hasn't lost since, ending the season with 20 consecutive wins, including victories over Farragut (Chicago) and Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.). La Lumiere's resume looks even better when you consider Findlay Prep hasn't lost since and Elgin advanced to the Illinois Class 4A sectional championship.
La Lumiere is typical Midwest-Big Ten type basketball team. They like to grind it out inside with 6-foot-7 Jay Simpson, a Purdue recruit, and 6-foot-10 sophomore Johnathon Wilkins, the son of former NBA player Jeff Wilkins. The Lakers go eight deep, but rely heavily on Davis to score. "If we lose him, we don't score well and if he struggles we don't play well," Huss said.
The one thing consistent is La Lumiere's defense, especially on the interior with Perea. "He played well against Anthony Bennett (of Findlay Prep) and we match up well with big teams," Huss said.
La Lumiere like their chances to make an impact in this tournament if they can keep turnovers to a minimum. "When it gets to a point where you have to win three games in three days, it comes down to guts, toughness and execution. We like to think we can execute well," Huss said.