La Lumiere’s Brian Bowen, left, and coach Shane Heirman, right, advanced with a 60-59 Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals quarterfinal win over St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark) on Thursday. (Photo: Jim Halley, USA TODAY Sports).
MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. — Brian Bowen didn’t get any extra points for degree-of-difficulty, but his shot in the lane while falling down gave La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.) the lead for good in a 60-59 defeat of St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.) on Thursday in a quarterfinal at the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals.
“When I threw the ball up, I knew it was a tough shot,” said Bowen, who led the Lakers (26-3) with 23 points. “I’m just glad it went in and we got the W.”
With the win, La Lumiere advances to play Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in a semifinal on Friday. Montverde beat Providence Day (Charlotte, N.C.) in the quarterfinals 70-54.
The first two days the tournament are being played at Christ the King High. Saturday’s championship is at Madison Square Garden.
The victory allowed the Lakers to avenge one of their three losses as they fell 66-63 earlier this year to the Gray Bees (32-2). The difference was certainly defense. St. Benedict’s even had two chances to go ahead in the final seconds, but James Banks blocked both shots.
“It was a toughness game,” Lakers coach Shane Heirman said. “Obviously, it came down to one possession. We knew what we were in for because of the last time. It was going to be a fistfight. Our guys responded and prepared very well for them. Brian has been the guy all season for us. He’s just a tremendous athlete with a high basketball IQ. A lot of people questioned his toughness, but on that last shot, he splits a ball screen and makes that shot. He’s as tough as a kid as we have.”
In St. Benedict’s earlier win, David Beatty had 23 points and Arnaldo Toro had 20. On Thursday, Beatty was held to five points on 1-for-12 shooting and Toro had 10, all but three coming in the second half.
“We tried to guard ball screens a little differently,” Heirman said. “We tried to limit (Beatty’s) catches, trying to be physical with him.”
La Lumiere came out hot and Bowen’s three-pointer gave the Lakers a 22-14 lead.
“We came out flat and didn’t play well in the first quarter at all,” Gray Bees coach Mark Taylor said. “We were tentative offensively. I was impressed with how we gathered ourselves and took the lead.”
Bowen was a big reason La Lumiere led 33-30 at the half. He had 13 first-half points and two steals. His layup gave the Lakers a 27-20 lead in the second quarter. St. Benedict’s then switched to a tight zone and scored nine consecutive points and briefly took the lead for the first time at 29-27 on a jump shot by James Scott, who had 12 points in the first half for the Gray Bees and led the team in scoring with 18 points.
“We got in foul trouble, so we went to a zone and it bothered them for three or four possessions,” Taylor said. “They called time out and called some adjustments. We went back to man-to-man the whole way.”
A few years ago, it was La Lumiere that suffered a last-second loss in a Dick’s quarterfinal.
“We knew in the beginning of the game it was going to be a game of runs,” Bowen said.
“That’s what makes this month so perfect in basketball,” Heirman said. “You just have to be prepared. James’ blocks were huge. For him to still be engaged in a game where he wasn’t playing that well otherwise was big.”