If you like defense, this was the game for you. No. 3 seed Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) used a pressure, trapping D to force fifth-seeded La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) into 19 turnovers en route to a 62-54 win in the opening game of the ESPNHS National High School Invitational.
Montverde, No. 12 in the POWERADE FAB 50, didn’t need much offense to win this one, but most of the Eagles’ scoring came from the backcourt of senior Michael Frazier and junior Kasey Hill. The duo combined for 35 points and consistently came up with big plays whenever La Lumiere threatened.
On the other end, Montverde’s defensive performance was staggering. The Eagles held La Lumiere to 32.3 percent shooting from the field and totally shut down the Lakers’ top offensive players. La Lumiere scored just six points in the first quarter and never recovered.
La Lumiere came into the NHSI ranked No. 23 in the POWERADE FAB 50 thanks in large part to the frontcourt of senior forwards Rapheal Davis, Hanner Perea and Jay Simpson. But that trio was almost completely neutralized by Montverde, combining for just 35 points (on 32 shots). Davis and Perea averaged 36.5 combined during the regular season.
Montverde senior forwards Michel Enanga, Landry Nnoko and Patricio Garino were dominant on defense. Enanga grabbed 15 rebounds, Nnoko blocked three shots and Garino played solid man-to-man defense on Davis. They set the tone from the opening tip and La Lumiere was never able to effectively run its offense.
“That was absolutely the difference in the game — they took us out of everything we wanted to do,” said La Lumiere coach Alan Huss. “Nnoko is the key to the whole thing. He’s back there protecting the rim, and even when we were able to beat the press we had trouble finishing.”
Florida Gators fans are probably still numb after their loss in the Elite 8, but the performances of Florida recruits Michael Frazier and Kasey Hill must have made them feel a bit better. Hill, a junior point guard, scored a game-high 19 points, while Frazier, a senior shooting guard, tallied 15.
Hill shot just 6-of-21 from the floor, but he put in work at the free-throw line, hitting seven of his eight attempts. Frazier shot 5-of-14 from the field and added seven rebounds while playing tough defense.
“I just tried to play hard,” said Frazier. “My shot wasn’t falling, so I tried to contribute in other ways.”
Montverde Academy coach Kevin Boyle recognized that La Lumiere was lacking in quality ball-handlers, so he applied a pressure defense from the opening tip. The result was 19 turnovers for La Lumiere, which led to 15 points for MVA.
“Whenever they got close, we were able to force a couple turnovers and get easy baskets,” said Boyle.”
Montverde Academy will take on the winner of the Ravenscroft-Montrose Christian game. Boyle is hoping for a better performance from Frazier, who was unable to practice for more than three weeks before Thursday’s game because of an illness.
“He missed some shots that he normally makes,” said Boyle of his leading scorer. “If he makes those, this is a completely different game. Hopefully he knocked the rust off and we get his normal results tomorrow.”