MIDDLE VILLAGE, N.Y. — La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) staked its claim to No. 1 with a 70-52 defeat of Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) in the championship of the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals.
Brian Bowen led the Lakers (27-1) with 15 points and seven rebounds, but he had plenty of help from fellow McDonald’s All-American Jaren Jackson (17 points), senior guard Jordan Poole (13 points) and sophomore point guard Tyger Campbell (10 points, seven assists).
La Lumiere coach Shane Heirman said his team was committed all season to return to the tournament after losing at the buzzer last season to Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.).
“The image just plays in your mind, sometimes when you’re stopped at a red light,” Heirman said. “It was an incredible motivating factor for us. We talked about it often.”
Campbell, who said he spent a little time watching Oak Hill celebrate after its win last year, was able to bask in being a winner this time.
“I stayed a little to watch after last year’s game and we knew we weren’t going to let that happen again,” Campbell said. “I knew I had my dogs with me, so we were straight.”
A large group of La Lumiere fans who made the 11-hour trip surrounded Campbell and his teammates during the post-game celebration on the court at Christ the King High School.
“That group was the majority of our school, to be honest,” Jackson said. “I know a lot of those people. Their support means everything. Every big shot we had, they were so hyped. It was great.”
La Lumiere is No. 2 in the Super 25 basketball rankings behind No. 1 Nathan Hale (Seattle), but Heirman left no doubt who he thinks should be No. 1 in next week’s rankings.
“No disrespect to Nathan Hale, if you’re not willing to lace up for it and play for it, you’re not number one,” Heirman said.
Montverde came up short of winning a record fourth DICK’S title after taking three straight from 2014-16.
Sophomore guard R.J. Barrett led Montverde (26-5) with 25 points, but no other Eagle scored in double figures.
“We needed somebody to have a special game offensively besides R.J. and we didn’t get that today,” said Montverde coach Kevin Boyle, who was attempting to win his fourth DICK’S Nationals.
Both teams came out cold in the first half. Montverde took a 28-27 lead at the break despite shooting only 34.5% from the floor with Barrett putting up 14 points. La Lumiere shot 33.3% despite going 3-for-19 from three-point range. The Lakers were led in the first half by Campbell with eight points and two assists.
La Lumiere opened the third quarter on a 12-3 run, punctuated by a three-pointer by Bowen. Poole’s three-pointer at the end of the third quarter but the Lakers up 47-38. The Michigan signee hit another one to start the fourth quarter and the Lakers were on their way.
“We have people who are confident in my shot,” Poole said. “They get mad when I don’t shoot when I should. The same goes for the other players, it helps being able to have confidence in your teammates.”
Asked what winning the title felt like, Isaiah Coleman-Lands struggled to put it into words, only to be quickly interrupted by Jackson.
“It feels sensational,” Jackson said.