High-SchoolIndiana: NHSI

NHSI preview: La Lumiere

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
10:45
PM ET
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)

Key Players:

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.

Inside Scoop:

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.

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

Findlay Prep gets No. 1 seed for NHSI

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
11:36
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ESPNHS has announced the seedings for the eight boys' teams that will compete in the fourth annual ESPNHS National High School Invitational.

The year's event, which features six POWERADE FAB 50-ranked teams, will be March 29-31 at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. ET March 31 on ESPN.

As expected, two-time NHSI champion Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) was awarded the top seed and will face No. 8 seed Coolidge (Washington, D.C.) March 29. Coolidge (29-7) will have its hands full with the No. 2 team in the country. In three years, only Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) has played the top seed in the No. 1 versus No. 8 game down to the wire, and that came in 2010 when Montrose lost to Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) by two points.

This year, FAB 50 No. 9 Montrose Christian (20-2) snagged the second seed and opens the tournament with seventh-seeded Ravenscroft (Ravenscroft, N.C.). The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 3A champions come in with a 31-3 mark, but they didn't venture too far from home this season and are decided underdogs against the defending NHSI champions.

Returning from last year's championship team is emotional leader Justin Anderson, a Virginia recruit, and Michael Carrera, who averaged a record 12.7 rebounds in Montrose Christian's three victories. Stu Vetter's club has to show its backcourt is capable without reigning tourney MVP Tyrone Johnson (now at Villanova), but Ravenscroft has even more to prove. The last two years, the NCISAA entrant has been routed in its opener.

After missing last year's event because of key early season losses, No. 12 Montverde Academy is back in the fold as the third seed. Kevin Sutton coached the team in 2010 when they advanced to the finals, but this year the 21-3 Mustangs have a new coach in Kevin Boyle. He turned St. Patrick (Elizabeth, N.J.) into a national power but his program never had the opportunity to compete at the NHSI.

Boyle now gets the opportunity against No. 6 seed La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), a newcomer on the national scene with a big and talented roster. Montverde not only faces the challenge of a hungry 25-2 team ranked No. 23, they also face the challenge of idle time. Montverde had not played another high school since Feb. 4.

One team that certainly won't have any problems with idle time is fourth seed St. Benedict's (Newark, N.J.), which competed in the prestigious Alhambra Catholic Invitational last weekend. Gray Bees lost only their second game of the season (33-2) to eventual tournament champion DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) in the semifinals.

Had St. Benedict's won that tournament without its point guard (Tyler Ennis) and sixth man (Jordan Forehand), there's a strong possibility they would have been seeded second. They only dropped five spots in the FAB 50 to No. 15 (two spots behind DeMatha) and will open the NHSI against fifth-seeded Ely (Pompano Beach, Fla.), the FHSAA Class 7A state champ ranked No. 16. If Ennis and Forehand are not healthy for St. Benedict's, they could have trouble stopping the backcourt of Ely, which has proven its scoring ability in big games this season.

If St. Benedict's situation is any indication, this could be the most balanced NHSI field yet. Findlay Prep wants another crack at La Lumiere to avenge its only loss, but in order for that to occur both teams have to advance to the championship game. If history is any indication, La Lumiere might have a good shot at the semifinals (where defending champion Montrose Christian could be waiting) since the No. 6 seed has won in the opening round the past two years.

"You play 30 games for a seeding, but when the ball goes up, everyone is 0-0," said Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck. "We're blessed to be able to participate, as these games give the competing teams some closure."

Ronnie Flores is a senior editor for ESPNHS. He can be reached at ronnie.flores@espn.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonFloresESPN

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