We take an in-depth look at all eight teams competing at the 2014 Dick’s Nationals in New York and conclude our series with No. 4 seed Huntington St. Joseph Prep of West Virginia. The Irish have been knocking on the doorstep of this event and want to show the country they deserve to be mentioned among the nation’s best programs.
Related: Dick’s Nationals Team & Individual Records | No. 1 Seed Montverde Academy | No. 2 Seed Rainier Beach | No. 3 Seed Northside Christian Academy | No. 4 Huntington-St. Joseph Prep | No. 6 Seed Oak Hill Academy | No. 7 Seed Findlay Prep | No. 8 Seed The Sagemont School | Dick’s Nationals Field Set
Team: No. 5 seed La Lumiere (LaPorte, Ind.)
Record, FAB 50 Rank: 23-2, No. 12 (No. 5 Midwest)
Head Coach: Alan Huss (100-20 at La Lumiere, 190-57 overall)
Key Players: Jalen Coleman (6-3, Jr., G), Sam Logwood (6-6, Sr., F/Auburn), Alex Olesinski (6-8, Jr., F), Joseph Toye (6-7, Jr., G-F), Munis Tutu (6-0, Jr., G)
Dick’s Nationals History: This is the third appearance for the Lakers. La Lumiere has been knocked out in the first round each of the past two seasons. Coach Alan Huss is taking steps to ensure his team has a better showing its its first game. “The last two years we’ve over prepared and over practiced,” Huss said. “On spring break, we sent the kids home. We’re focused on being fresh for the tournament. We’re taking a vastly different approach this year and we hope it helps us play better.”
Road To Dick’s Nationals: The Lakers lost early to No. 34 Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kan.) then bounced back with an impressive win over FAB 50 No. 35 Prime Prep (Ft. Worth, Texas) at the Tarkanian Classic. Later in December, La Lumiere defeated a West Oaks (Orlando, Fla.) team which defeated Huntington St. Joseph Prep, the Lakers’ opening round opponent. In its first game of 2014, the Lakers lost to No. 8 Arsenal Tech (Indianapolis, Ind.) in a game Huss says he team simply fouled too much. He felt his team wasn’t physical enough versus Sunrise Christian Academy and Arsenal Tech’s Trey Lyles hurt his team, but the second loss actually helped the team. The Lakers haven’t lost since.
Inside Scoop: La Lumiere doesn’t have the biggest team nor the most athletic, but it can really shoot the outside shot and score. Junior guard Jalen Coleman has been a go-to player all season long and Huss says his shooting has been “incredible and consistent.” Coleman leads the team with 91 3-pointers made while junior Drew Cayce and Alex Olesinski, another junior, also are threats from the outside. Huss didn’t like the fact five games down the stretch of the season were cancelled because of inclement weather and never made up. Going into the Dick’s Nationals, however, he is still confident because of his team’s approach and play in the second half of the season. Huss credits Sam Longwood, one of the team’s two seniors and an Auburn commit, as the player who makes everything go. Longwood was more of a catch-and-shoot player as an underclassmen, but he’s now a main facilitator. “Sam’s role changed,” Huss said. “He’s turned into an excellent passer and has become a complete basketball player.”
Versus Huntington St. Joseph Prep: La Lumiere is an underclass-dominated team, but a confident one. Not only did La Lumiere beat West Oaks when Huntington lost to them, the Lakers also defeated a Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) club by 10 points (65-55) that the Irish beat by two (68-66). While common opponent results seem to favor La Lumiere in this No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup, Huss is quite aware of Huntington’s early-season struggles and how much better the team is playing now. “The guards are now getting the ball inside to Thomas Bryant and they are active defensively. Also, JaQuan Lyle, when he’s as good as anyone in the country.” Bryant’s ability concerns Huss because of his team’s main Achilles’ heel: its ability to guard the post. Huss doesn’t want to see Longwood or Joseph Toye get any cheap fouls because it could spell trouble. Look for La Lumiere to attempt to get Bryant and Huntington’s other post players away from the basket. The Lakers will do that with proper spacing, and of course, by shooting a good percentage from the outside. While the Lakers have a lot of offensive firepower, they have a tendency to live and die by the 3-point shot. If they are on, the Lakers will be in good position to win their first game ever in this event. If they are not, however, the adjustment may be to double and gamble a bit in the interior and hope Huntington is not shooting well from the outside, either.