Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Top-ranked Lakers wear down Raiders

Keenan’s Tariq Simmons drives by La Lumiere’s Kevin Zhang.

Keenan’s Tariq Simmons drives by La Lumiere’s Kevin Zhang.

The La Lumiere Lakers are currently the top ranked high school boys’ basketball team in the country and are paced by a front court that boasts players 6’ 8” and taller. That size and talent wore down the Keenan Raiders and earned the Lakers a 77- 58 victory and the National Division Championship of the Chick-fil-A Classic on Friday night, December 23 in the main gym at Richland Northeast in Columbia.

The win gives La Lumiere a perfect 13-0 record. The Keenan Raiders, currently ranked No. 1 in South Carolina 2A by Max- Preps, fall to an 8-1 slate on the current campaign.

The Lakers jumped out to an early 8-0 lead before Keenan got on the board with a jumper from Ervin Stone at the 12:20 mark in the first half. The Lakers athleticism and front-line size with Michigan State signee Jaren Jackson at 6-11, senior forward Brian Bowen at 6-8, and 6- 9 senior forward Jacob Epperson, got to the rim, got to the foul line, and dominated on the boards. The biggest player Keenan put on the floor was 6’4”. The Lakers pulled down 34 rebounds in the contest, while the Raiders got 25.

Keenan’s Dillon Jones tries to get a shot by La Lumiere’s Jacob Epperson.

Keenan’s Dillon Jones tries to get a shot by La Lumiere’s Jacob Epperson.

La Lumiere got a jumper and free throw from Bowen to help build an 18- 7 lead. Two free throws by Dillon Jones brought the Raiders to within nine, but the Lakers closed out the first half with two free throws from Jordan Poole, a Michigan signee, and a drive by Isaiah Coleman- Lands to take a 31-18 lead to intermission.

Two free throws from Poole and a layup from Coleman-Lands gave the Lakers a 50-28 lead with just over nine minutes to play. The Raiders fought back to within 13 with just under four minutes to play, powered by a free throw from Tariq Simmons, a drive from Rodriguez Marshall, and a layup from Jones. After a Keenan timeout, the Lakers’ Poole drilled a three, Coleman- Lands struck for two, and Tyger Campbell netted a free throw to regain control for La Lumiere.

Lakers head coach Shane Heirman had high praise for the atmosphere and the tournament hosts.

Keenan’s Dantrell Sligh-Rogers tries to save a loose ball against La Lumiere.

Keenan’s Dantrell Sligh-Rogers tries to save a loose ball against La Lumiere.

“It was incredible event,” Heirman said after the contest. “ The hospitality was second to none, and it is just an incredible privilege to be able to come here. I thought our guys competed all tournament long. I thought we had a few lulls, but I am proud of the way they competed.”

La Lumiere’s next two stops will take them to tournaments in South Dakota and West Virginia, and Heirman says the ingredients are there for continued success.

“There are roles to play and consistency needed. To win at the highest levels, there is no room for error,” the coach said. “There is just greater consistency, urgency, and intensity we need to show. There is a lot of chemistry, and it is not always easy to do that with different personalities and egos from different parts of the country. It is a neat group. They are together. They buy into us, into the school, the academics, and that no one is bigger than the program. I like where we are right now.”

Keenan head man Zach Norris said his team gave great effort.

“I am proud of our guys,” Norris said. “They did not give up. They fought to the very end, but I don’t think my guys decided to play hard till the last four minutes or so, when they decided they could do something. But that is a lesson for our younger guys and our older guys that hopefully we can take into the second half of the season. I think they are gelling and starting to believe in each other.”

La Lumiere: Jaren Jackson 20, Brian Bowen 18, Jordan Poole 18, Tyger Campbell 11, Isaiah Coleman Lands 8, and Jacob Epperson 2.

Keenan: Tariq Simmons 22, Rodriguez Marshall 13, Dillon Jones 11, Latrell Taylor 5, Q’Dardrius

Sanders 3, Dantrell Sligh-Rogers 2, and Ervin Stone 2.

2016 National Division
All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player
Brian “Tugs” Bowen, La Lumiere
Most Outstanding Player
Zion Williamson, Spartanburg Day
All-Tournament Team
Jalek Felton, Gray Collegiate
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamilton Heights
Jaren Jackson Jr., La Lumiere
James Reese, A.C. Flora
Tariq Simmons, Keenan

2016 American Division
All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player
E.J. Montgomery, Wheeler
Most Outstanding Player
Darius Perry, Wheeler
All-Tournament Team
Devon Dotson, Providence Day
Jarius Hamilton, Cannon
Montez Mathis, John Carroll
Aaron Nesmith, Porter-Gaud
Jordan Tucker, Wheeler

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