How Elgin stunned nationally-ranked LaLumiere of Indiana in 2011
Editor's note: Below is an edited version of Elgin's upset of nationally-ranked La Lumiere in the championship gam of the 2011 Elgin Holiday Tournament.
By Jerry Fitzpatrick
As upsets go, Elgin's win over nationally ranked La Lumiere was downright illuminating.
The Lakers, ranked No. 10 in the country by Maxpreps.com, weren't given an inch by the host Maroons in the title game of the 37th Annual Elgin Holiday Tournament in December of 2011.
The Maroons sank their first five shots from 3-point range and confounded the Lakers by switching between man-to-man and 2-3 zone defenses throughout a thrilling 40-34 victory in a sectional-like atmosphere at Chesbrough Field House.
"We shocked the world," said Elgin junior guard Arie Williams while surrounded by fans who stormed the floor after the final buzzer. "We wanted this so bad. We came out with no fear. We came out hard and did what we wanted to do."
La Lumiere took the floor for the second straight night without Indiana-bound guard Hanner Perea and Purdue signee Raphael Davis, both of whom had family commitments.
However, the Lakers were still stocked with talent like Antonio Drummond (Southern Illinois), 7-footer Obij Ajet (New Mexico), 6-9 Purdue recruit Jay Simpson, 6-10 Johnathon Wilkins and Croatian national team member Matej Buovac.
The much smaller Maroons were missing starting post Gerardo Mojica, who sprained an ankle in the semifinal. Yet, the Maroons were able to hold the Lakers to 5, 9 and 8 points in the first three quarters, respectively. They collapsed on La Lumiere's big men in the post and got hands in the faces of the 3-point shooters.
La Lumiere (11-2), whose only previous loss was inflicted by Oak Hill Academy, shot 13 of 39 from the field overall (33 percent) and 1 of 13 from 3-point range (8 percent).
"We spent a whole 10 minutes in practice working on zone and we played it for four quarters," Elgin coach Mike Sitter said. "It was hustle."
Elgin (12-1), which won its 8th straight game, never trailed. The Maroons bombed away from the perimeter as Cortez Scott and Williams sank early 3-pointers for a 6-1 lead.
Kory Brown was the key. The 6-foot-4 senior sank his first 4 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, en route to one of the best games of his career. He scored 11 points in the first quarter to stake Elgin to a 17-5 advantage. He finished with a game-high 18 points to go with 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
Elgin led 22-14 at the half and took a 30-22 lead to the final period after sinking 6 of 17 shots from 3-point range through three quarters.
The Lakers cut the deficit to 32-29 on 2 free throws by Drummond (11 points) with 3:51 left, but Elgin held the ball in a spread offense to run clock and hit just enough free throws to protect the lead. That included 2 technical free throws by Williams with 2:58 left after exasperated La Lumiere coach Alan Huss made his displeasure with the officiating clear.
"I thought it was a bad job by us playing the zone," Huss said of his defense in the first quarter. "We don't usually play it. We knew the officials were going to be awful and we just knew we couldn't guard them man-to-man, so we tried to play the zone at the beginning but it didn't matter.
"They hit some shots early. We got behind and they got really deliberate. They did a good job taking care of the basketball. It makes it hard without our two best players.
"It makes their season and it ruins ours. This probably cost us a shot at a national championship."
The Maroons lingered on the floor to soak in the moment long after they'd accepted the tournament trophy.
"It's probably one of the biggest statements we've made in a long time, beating a big team like this, ranked high (nationally)," Brown said. "We came out, took care of business and put it away at the end. We played as a full team."