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La Lumiere performs on big stage

4/24/2012
Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images

Six years ago, if someone were to ask a La Lumiere (Ind.) student if he or she thought the basketball program was going to go national, the student would surely find the question completely non-applicable to the school. Today, this is all the students can talk about.

How did La Lumiere come to power as one of the top high school basketball programs in the country? La Lumiere, founded in 1963 as a small, Catholic, college preparatory school, began to take a firm stand in basketball around five years ago. Players such as De'Andre Haskins (played his freshman year at Valparaiso) and Luka Mirkovic (Northwestern) were among the first few athletes to play division 1 basketball coming out of La Lumiere.

After a few years of coaching by Delray Brooks, the team's leadership switched over to coach Alan Huss. Huss came into La Lumiere and increased the visibility of the program. Huss brought recruits in 2010 such as Hanner Perea, Obij Aget, Antonio "Bobo" Drummond, and Aaron Emmanuel. The 2010-11 season brought strength and confidence to La Lumiere basketball. The next year things got a little more serious, and La Lumiere went a little more national, playing teams such as Oak Hill Academy and Findlay Prep. A solid national performance this season, including a win over Findlay -- the only team to beat the Pilots this season -- earned La Lu a spot in the 2012 National High School Invitational. It gave them a chance to perform on a stage bigger than ever before: in front of a live television audience on ESPN.

La Lumiere started the first game a little off-guard. Florida's Montverde Academy proved fast to be a strong opponent, and put up seven uncontested points to start the game. Montverde's Miguel Cartagena immediately proved to be an incredible shooter, posting a 75 percent 3-point average. This great start from Montverde definitely put La Lumiere "on their heels," as coach Huss described after the game. He said the team was "out of sync." La Lumiere's 19 turnovers definitely lead to a major part of their defeat. Huss summed up the game in a few simple words: "we just didn't attack."

Altogether, the national experience was something special to La Lumiere students. Being a small school located in the woods of Northwest Indiana, La Lumiere had many students who were very excited to see their school play on ESPN. Sophomore Tommy Yemc said "it was a really exciting experience to have my high school on national TV that I will never forget." Yemc was one of a handful of students who drove all the way out to Bethesda, Md., to see the game up close.

The players found the opportunity to be one-of-a-kind as well. Jay Simpson loved playing in the tournament and Glen Heffernan and John Wilkins stated that one of their favorite parts of the trip was "when they got the Kevin Durants." This is not an opportunity the school gets every year. La Lumiere is very close-knit, and it is no surprise that students wanted to come and watch their small school perform at the national level.

John Lake is a senior at La Lumiere. He plans to attend The University of Notre Dame in the fall.