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HAGEN: La Lumiere impressed with talent at classic

Alan Huss was well aware of the snow that was moving across South Dakota and Iowa on Thursday.

La Lumiere's basketball coach and his team were facing a 10-hour ride to Mitchell for their game today at the third annual Mike Miller Classic.

Despite the wintry drive, Huss was anxious to bring his team back to town.

"We're very excited," Huss said about 10 minutes into the journey, noting his team would stop in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday night, before finishing the trip this morning. "We feel very blessed to play great games against great competition."

La Lumiere is one of five out-of-state teams playing in this year's classic. Hailing from La Porte, Ind. -- which is about 70 miles east of Chicago -- this is the second straight year the Lakers will be playing at the Corn Palace.

Last year Huss' team won both of its games in Mitchell, shocking Findlay Prep on the first night and nearly getting stunned by Sioux Falls O'Gorman on the second day.

When La Lumiere matched up against Findlay Prep, it was two nationally ranked teams that provided several highlight moments with dunks, long shots and players with nifty moves. The Lakers defeated Findlay Prep 67-66, giving Huss a big win for his program.

The next day, the Lakers had to rally from a 12-point deficit with 6:35 to play to beat O'Gorman 74-73 in what could have been a huge upset.

Huss, whose team is 13-1 and has only lost to Findlay Prep this season, is expecting another great year at the Miller Classic. His team is led by Detrick Mostella, who averages 19 points a game and is committed to Oklahoma State University. Huss said he also has a handful of other players he expects to sign with NCAA Division I basketball programs.

At 8:30 p.m. today, La Lumiere plays Watertown, which is 4-0 and ranked second in Class AA by the state's sportswriters association. At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the Lakers play Sioux Falls Washington (2-1).

"South Dakota definitely has great basketball," Huss said. "People are really intelligent fans and I would be shocked if they don't come out to watch great basketball. This event is great for the national teams to come in, because I don't think people know how good the talent in South Dakota really is."

After La Lumiere won two games in Mitchell last year, the team went on to win 20 of its final 21 games. Its only loss from then on was to Montverde Academy (Fla.) in the quarterfinals of the ESPN national tournament.

Findlay Prep eventually defeated Montverde in the championship game to win the title on March 31. Twelve days earlier, O'Gorman knocked off Mitchell for the South Dakota Class AA boys' state championship.

While traveling Thursday to Mitchell, Huss thought about both games and the talent level at the Miller Classic.

"We played two one-point games last year in Mitchell," he said. "We beat the national champions and we beat the South Dakota state champions, but I couldn't tell you which team was tougher when we played them."