Who: No. 1 La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) vs. No. 4 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.)
When: 5 p.m. ET Friday
Where: Christ The King (Middle Village, N.Y.)
MORE: 5 things to watch
About La Lumiere: Ranked No. 2 in the Super 25, the Lakers return to the DICK’S Nationals with unfinished business after losing to Oak Hill Accademy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) in the closing seconds of last year’s title game. Victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals were the first DICK’S wins in program history. La Lumiere entered the 2017 event with a 26-1 record, with the lone loss coming against Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) at the Spalding HoopHall Classic in January. The Lakers are on an 11-game winning streak following their quarterfinal victory against Wasatch Academy.
The La Lumiere lineup is absolutely stacked. That starts with 6-8 small forward Brian Bowen, ranked No. 12 in the ESPN 100, and 6-10 power forward Jaren Jackson, a Michigan State commit who is ranked No. 16, both of whom are also McDonald’s All Americans. (Both also will play in the Jordan Brand Classic.) The Lakers also feature 6-4 Michigan commit Jordan Poole, sophomore point guard Tyger Campbell and senior combo guard Isaiah Coleman-Lands, all of whom are major prospects in their own right.
About Findlay Prep: The Pilots, ranked No. 7 in the Super 25, have been in the DICK’S/National High School Invitational every year since its inception, winning titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012 but have not been to the championship game since. They’re a single upset away from getting back there now.
Findlay Prep is 34-3 with the three losses coming within the span of eight days to La Lumiere, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth, Calif.) and Montverde Academy (Fla.). The team entered the tournament on a 13-game winning streak, then took care of a game Oak Hill Academy, sending the defending champions home after the quarterfinals.
Kentucky signee P.J. Washington, ranked No. 14 in the ESPN 100, is the Pilots’ star and go-to player. As Washington goes, Findlay goes, and the 6-8 forward leads the team in scoring (19.7 per game), rebounding (9.5 per game) and assists (6.3 per game). His wing man in a literal and physical sense is 6-7 Lamine Diane, who continues to get his footing in his second year in the United States.
The Senegalese star is averaging more than 17 points per game, more than 10 up from the five points per game he averaged last season. Senior Donnie Tillman averages 15 points and nearly eight rebounds, senior Justin Roberts averages 11 points and 4.5 assists and junior Reggie Chaney averages 11 points and nine rebounds.
What to expect: Both La Lumiere and Findlay Prep took care of business in their respective quarterfinals, with the Indiana power taking care of Wasatch Academy, 64-52, and Findlay dominating Oak Hill, 77-65. Findlay Prep enters with huge motivation not only to get back to the title game, but also to avenge its opening loss of the season. P.J. Washington should be the x-factor here; if the Kentucky-bound big man proves too much for Jaren Jackson to handle it may be hard for La Lumiere to repeat their early season fix. Meanwhile, if Washington can be held under wraps it’s hard to imagine Findlay bucketing aside La Lumiere tremendous cast of guards for a full game. Either way, the game should be a fascinating physical and tactical chess match.