(La Porte County, IN) - The college prep school basketball team at La Lumiere is going into the New Year ranked No. 6 in the National Top 20 basketball rankings.
The only loss suffered by the Lakers (9-1) was to No. 1 ranked Sunrise Christian Academy out of Kansas on December 11. However, head Coach Pat Holmes said this year’s team nestled in the rolling hills of northern LaPorte County has the potential to reach the National Tournament, which La Lumiere won in 2017.
“So far, so good. We still have plenty of work yet to do,” Holmes said.
Holmes said the most challenging part of the schedule, perhaps, coming up will be a significant test for his team filled with players recruited by major college basketball programs.
The Lakers face Indianapolis Cathedral in the Mac Jelks Invitational at Hammond Central High School on January 1. La Lumiere then plays three games between January 6-8 in the U.S. Marines National Interscholastic Basketball Conference Invitational. The invitational will be played at the La Porte Civic Auditorium and televised by ESPN.
More than 30 of the top 100 NCAA Division 1 recruits are members of the eight teams taking part in the basketball extravaganza.
“We can lose to any one of these teams but we’re very capable of beating every one of these teams. We got to bring it every single night,” Holmes said.
This year, the starters for La Lumiere are 6’ 0” junior guard Jeremy Fears, Jr., from Joliet, Illinois, and J.J. Starling, a 6’5” senior guard from Baldwinsville N w York. Starling has committed to play at the University of Notre Dame next season. Fears is being pursued by the University of Illinois, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan.
Rounding out the starting line-up are Ryan Mabrey, Chisom Okpara, and Kebba Njie.
The 6’4” Mabrey, a senior guard from Lincroft, New Jersey, is being recruited by the University of Washington and other colleges like Valparaiso University. Okpara, a 6’7” senior forward out of Saxtons River, Vermont, is signed to play next season at Harvard University. Njie, a 6’10” senior forward from Dayton, Ohio, has committed to Penn State University.
Holmes said this year’s team is stronger than last year’s squad, which was 10-10 during a COVID-19 shortened season.
“This is a great team we have here. We’re just trying to stay healthy and keep getting better every single day,” he said.