La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.), propelled by three wins last week over Super 25 teams, finishes the season as the No. 1 team in the Super 25 boys basketball rankings — the same place the Lakers started the season.
RANKINGS: FINAL SUPER 25 BOYS BASKTBALL
La Lumiere passed previous No. 1 Nathan Hale (Seattle) for the Super 25 title. While Nathan Hale, now the No. 4 team, finished the season unbeaten at 29-0, the Raiders had only two wins over Super 25 teams and passed up on a chance to play in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals.
“The bottom line to me is Nathan Hale had an opportunity to play in the best tournament in the country and they said no,” Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle said. “I don’t think it’s fair to La Lumiere to let a team, for whatever reason, choose not to enter (the tournament) and be No. 1. Just think if it was the NCAA tournament and Gonzaga, said, ‘Hey, we beat BYU, we’re undefeated. We decided not to enter.’ They should have come anyway. … There’s no way La Lumiere shouldn’t be No. 1.”
The Lakers’ resume was also thin before last week’s DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals, but to win the tournament title, the Lakers beat three teams in the Super 25.
Brian Bowen had 15 points and seven rebounds and Jaren Jackson had 17 points in a 70-52 defeat of then-No. 8 Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in the championship. Bowen also had 19 points in a 54-52 defeat of then-No. 7 Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) in a DICK’S Nationals semifinal and Jackson had 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 64-52 defeat of then-No. 16 Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant) in a DICK’S Nationals quarterfinal.
“I felt like there was a lot of toughness involved,” La Lumiere coach Shane Heirman said. “It wasn’t particularly pretty all week, but there was a definite toughness involved. I think that’s the core of our team, the character of our team.”
The tournament results led to other rankings reverberations. The team with the biggest jump is new No. 10 Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.), which climbed seven spots. The Bengals (34-4) shocked then-No. 4 IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) in a DICK’S Nationals quarterfinal as J.P. Moorman had 15 points and Jordan Perkins had 14. The loss also meant that IMG tumbled down to No. 11 in the rankings.
Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) had the next-highest jump, going from No. 7 to No. 3. The Pilots came close to beating La Lumiere, falling 54-52 in a DICK’S National semifinal. Findlay also defeated then-No. 9 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) 77-65 as Lamine Diane and Reggie Chaney each had 21 points in a DICK’S Nationals quarterfinal.
Last season, Chino Hills, Calif., went unbeaten and because of state association rules, did not play in the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals, yet wound up No. 1. Some might argue that Nathan Hale should not have been moved down as far as No. 4, but strength of schedule plays a big part in the rankings.
Findlay Prep jumped over the Raiders because they have more Super 25 wins, including two defeats over Oak Hill Academy that were more decisive than Nathan Hale’s win over the Warriors.
Memphis East also jumped over Nathan Hale, despite not playing in the DICK’S. In the Mustangs’ case, they petitioned to play in the event but were turned down by the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Memphis East had a tougher path to win its state title and had a more impressive schedule overall than Nathan Hale, including three Super 25 victories.