There was only one way to upstage a Sierra Canyon (Calif.) team that is playing beautifully beastly basketball while featuring sons of two former NBA all-stars.
Sierra Canyon’s 64-49 elimination win over a talented Westchester squad in the semifinal round of the ‘Iolani Prep Classic on Friday night was sterling. However, the highly unusual possibility surrounding La Lumiere became reality. The sixth-ranked Lakers, from La Porte, Ind., stunned No. 1 Montverde Academy, 58-51.
The win was sensational. The Lakers opened the lead to 50-38 in the fourth quarter, sparked by a couple of 3-pointers by 6-foot-8 senior Keion Brooks. Then they hung on as Montverde cut the lead to six.
“(Montverde coach) Kevin Boyle has been coaching at the highest level for the past 30 years. He’s got lots of guys in the NBA. He’s had situations like this he’s come back and won,” La Lumiere coach Patrick Holmes said.
Brooks finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Gerald Drumgoole led with 18. Wendell Green had 13 points and 6-9 Isaiah Stewart added eight points, eight boards and rim protection against the elite Montverde front line.
“We just came out here with the mind-set to show up and this game, we can beat them at this game. Montverde is a great team, but we needed this,” said Stewart, rated No. 5 in this year’s senior class.
“These are the top bigs in the country. I love matchups, competing against the best, doing everything I can to help my team win. I told my teammates, don’t blink on me, man. We need everyone including the bench,” Stewart said.
Brooks looked professorial with his prescription glasses after the game.
“I know what my job is. I’m going to excel at every part of the game. When my teammates rely on me to score, I catch the ball and let it go and it went in,” he said. “I have naturally good touch, but you wouldn’t be good at something unless you work at it every day, squeeze in shots whenever we can. We stuck together. No matter what happened throughout the game, we stick together.”
Holmes was pleased, but not satisfied quite yet.
“It was a great team effort. I’m excited for our team. They battled. We had limit possessions, keep it a halfcourt game and limit live-ball turnovers because Montverde, they does a heck of a job with their press, with their length, getting deflections and getting easy baskets,” Holmes said. “If we limit those, we have a great chance to win the game and that’s what we did.”
The Lakers prioritize consistent, smart on-ball defense.
“It’s five guys guarding as one. You’re only as strong as your weakest defender,” Holmes said.
It gets unusual because La Lumiere is considered an independent and not a basketball member of Indiana’s high school association. States like California prohibit its schools from competing against independents. Utah is another state that does not allow it. That became a major point of discussion for ‘Iolani Classic officials this week as the Lakers advanced and advanced and advanced. Officials printed out four scenarios involved the possibilities of La Lumiere in the final with teams from California or Utah.
In a normal situation, La Lumiere would play the other semifinalist, Sierra Canyon, which had standout performances across the board. But Sierra Canyon is a member of the California Interscholastic Federation, so tourney officials shuffled the matchups.
La Lumiere will play Oak Ridge of Orlando, Fla., a state that does allow competition with independents. Oak Ridge lost to Westchester in the quarterfinals, but Westchester isn’t a viable option because it is from California.
In the other co-championship game, Sierra Canyon will face semifinal loser Montverde. While the Trailblazers wanted to play the No. 1 team anyway, it is a much more daunting task than what La Lumiere has.
“We got a good win against Montverde, a lot of high-caliber players, but we’ve got to look forward to Oak Ridge,” Brooks said. “They’re a high quality team, very athletic players who can run up and down. We can’t go into tomorrow expecting to win. We have to come out just like we did today and hopefully things will go our way.”
That’s the focus for La Lumiere right now. Then in two weeks, they play — guess who — Montverde again.
“We play them in the Cancer Research Classic,” Holmes said. “Kevin has done a tremendous job. He’s won four national titles. Look at that roster. They’re loaded. We got the win. We play a really good Oak Ridge team tomorrow. But this is kind of just one part of the season. We still have 20 more games to go.”
Saturday, Dec. 22
>> ‘Iolani vs. Pleasant Grove, 3:30 p.m.
>> West Linn vs. Westchester, 5 p.m.
>> La Lumiere vs. Oak Ridge, 6:30 p.m.
>> Sierra Canyon vs. Montverde, 8 p.m.