LaLu puts on a show
MICHIGAN CITY — Don’t try to convince John Boyd that playing La Lumiere is anything but good for Michigan City.
Even after Wednesday’s 81-50 thrashing from the prep school national power, the Wolves coach sees the game as a positive.
“It’s not demoralizing at all,” Boyd said. “That’s a good team, my goodness. That’s not a high school. That’s a prep school. They’ve got a pro (Isaiah Stewart), a legitimate No. 5-rated kid in the world. Your guys see that level, they see the mentality, the confidence. You look at that on film and see it on your floor, it’s such a privilege to have a team that good right in your back yard. Every team in the area should try to play them if they can. There’s nothing bad to feel about playing against the best. We need to get to that level.”
If anyone in the stands didn’t know about La Lumiere, it didn’t take long to find out. Stewart, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound man-child who is expected to choose from Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, Syracuse or Washington, took a pass on the first possession and drop stepped for a dunk. The next trip, 6-8 Keion Brooks, a reported Indiana lean, threw down a lob. With Spartans coach Tom Izzo watching, Stewart blocked four shots in the first quarter and finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds, while Brooks stashed a game-high 25 points.
“We always enjoy coming out here and putting on a show,” Lakers coach Patrick Holmes said. “Ego isn’t a thing, which is great, They could be at their old high school averaging 25 points a game. They all make sacrifices coming here. They’re all working toward a common goal. They want to win, they want to compete, they want to be pushed. Coach Boyd has a good team. They’re young. It’s good to be tested on the road against a local team in a different atmosphere.”
As for that test, City gave LaLu (17-0) about 12 minutes before succumbing to the superior talent. It was 25-15 midway through the second before a 15-2 surge to end the half made it 40-17.
“You have 5:30 a.m. workouts, you become a tight-knit group,” Holmes said. “We’ve traveled 10,000 miles the last three weeks. All the nights on airplanes, in hotels, on buses, you learn to be close.”
Jaivion Reid had 16 to lead City (7-6), which didn’t find a rhythm otherwise on offense until the Lakers’ first unit had a seat in the fourth quarter.
“We knew we were going against a pretty good team,” Reid said. “We just wanted to try to match their level of intensity, keep pushing ourselves, don’t give up. Ray (Howard) and I told the team, they’re just an ordinary team. We feel like we have enough talent, we can beat ’em. It was just an ordinary game to us. We have a lot of young guys and there were some jitters there. To us, it’s not a loss, it’s a learn. We’ll get back to the lab and work.”
City shot under 25 percent at 15 of 62.
“We missed some shots, we started being passive,” Boyd said. “One of our Achilles has been being tentative. We continue to not catch and shoot, to drive the basketball with passion. I saw us play defense against one of the best big men in the country at times. It’s always been my motto, you never lose, you only learn. All we did was gain. We faced a challenge, we didn’t put our tail between our legs and run. I’m proud of my guys. There’s nothing bad about that. We’ll grow from this.”
Freshman Jalen Bullock put together his own little highlight clip with back-to-back dunks in the fourth quarter.
“At some point, Michigan City is going to have that mentality,” Boyd said. “They have a B team, but we’re good enough to play against their A team. You come to Michigan City, you get to play a program like that, some of the best kids in the country. They’ve won a national championship. You get to see what your game is compared to theirs. That’s something to be proud of, something that should motivate you to get up in the mornings and run, to work harder in the weight room, to work harder at practice. We’ve got freshmen and sophomores out there. They should grow from that.”
Like Boyd, Reid felt the takeaway was positive.
“Why not?” Reid said on why City plays LaLu. “It’s just like saying we can’t win a sectional championship.”
LaLu, who has won the four meetings between the schools by an average of 34 points, will host the Wolves again next season.
“A lot of people don’t want to come to our venue,” Holmes said. “We have a good relationship with Michigan City. (Athletic Director) Craig Shaman’s a great guy. A big thing we’re still trying to fight is getting a lot of people in the community to come and learn more about our school and our basketball program, to get (attention) not only on the national level but for people from Michigan City, La Porte County, St. Joe County. It’s paid dividends.”
La Lumiere 81, Michigan City 50
Jaivion Reid’s 16 points led the Wolves.