The quest begins
La PORTE — It’s 7:30 on a cold December night at the Marsch Gym on the campus of La Lumiere School.
The boys Varsity White basketball team is in a close game against an early-season opponent. Keion Brooks Jr., a senior from Fort Wayne who would later commit to play for Kentucky, has an open three-pointer from the top of the key. Instead of taking the shot, he whips a quick bounce pass to guard Wendell Green for an easy layup to seal the victory.
Students, parents and basketball-loving members of the community cheer as the game ends and the Lakers’ perfect record for the season remains intact.
After the game, members of the team walk to their dorms to shower, finish homework and go to bed, only to see their teammates again eight hours later for breakfast the next morning. Many of the players live down the hall from each other and some are roommates. The team is with each other constantly; in classes during the day, at practice in the afternoon, and in the dorms at night.
“Part of the reason for our success is our chemistry,” senior Paxson Wojcik said. “We’re always hanging out.”
Their chemistry is so good, they have now racked up 28 wins this season without a single loss. While the closeness of the team would make one think they have been playing together for years, members of the team have come from all different parts of the country, and even the world.
“We’re like brothers,” freshman Darion Smith said.
Part of the reason they have become such a close-knit group so fast seems to be their special living situations, according to senior Jakov Kukic.
“We’re out here in the middle of the woods,” he said. “The only thing to do is play basketball with each other.”
The La Lumiere team is supremely talented, especially the six seniors on the team. But instead of focusing on their personal goals, senior leaders work to put the team before themselves.
That includes Washington commit Isaiah Stewart, a senior from Rochester, New York, who is ranked in the top five of the 2019 ESPN 100 rankings. Stewart has inspired teammates by encouraging them and doing the little things necessary for success, instead of focusing on his own statistics.
Today, La Lumiere is in New York City to play in the first round of the Geico High School Nationals. They will be playing some of the country’s best teams and will need to win three consecutive games to claim the title. Winning this tournament and being national champions is the main goal for the Lakers every season. Pat Holmes, in his second season as La Lumiere head coach, tells his players to “limit mistakes, no ‘my bad’s’, and to make sure at the end of the day (your) tank is empty.”
With the team concentrating on its last several practices before the tournament, many La Lumiere students are booking flights and hotels to travel to New York to support the team and their school. Senior Megan Gausselin will be heading to New York for the tournament for the first time. She said she’s excited because “the student body support is what helps them do their best.”
Many students and teachers feel this way, as they have been backing the team all season long, spending winter weeknights going to games.
“It’s such a welcoming community, everyone is so friendly and helpful,” Wojcik said.
With this combination of talent, team chemistry and fan support, La Lumiere hopes to bring home a championship from New York. As Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
The top-seeded Lakers start their quest when they tip off against No. 8 Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas today at 3.
La Lumiere freshman Lauren Jordanich has been selected as one of 200 people for a summer internship at The New York Times for this upcoming summer.
La Lumiere (28-0) vs. Bishop Gorman (28-4), 3 p.m. (ESPNU)