3 Lighthouse players sign with Tacoma basketball, stuck at home for now
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3 Lighthouse players sign with Tacoma basketball, stuck at home for now

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TWIN FALLS — The circumstances around the college signings of Lighthouse Christian basketball players Casper Block, Logan Stephens and Tyler Munsee to Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington, are far from normal.

First, where most student-athletes get to have a ceremony in front of family and friends at their school, the outbreak of COVID-19 forced the trio of seniors to hold in-home signings Wednesday.

Second, it’s not too often that three players from the same high school program sign with the same college program. So while the three boys were not able to celebrate their moment like they normally would, they will still have a chance to work together on the court for the next two years.

Casper Block signs with Tacoma Community College

Casper Block holds up his jersey after signing his letter of intent to play basketball at Tacoma Community College on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at his home in Twin Falls. Due to stay at home orders and social distancing requirements, Block had to sign his letter on intent at home instead of at Lighthouse Christian School.

Tacoma head coach TJ Caughell was first interested in Block, who is now the two-time defending Sawtooth Conference player of the year and was the Times-News small school co-player of the year for 2019-20. As Caughell built a relationship with Lighthouse coach Tony Standlee, Standlee also let the college coach know about Munsee and Stephens.

Munsee, who was also coming off of an all-state season as part of Lighthouse Christian’s undefeated state championship year in 2019, had plenty of college recruiting interest outside of Tacoma. But a late-season football injury this fall changed his trajectory.

In the Class 1A Division II state quarterfinal game against Dietrich, Munsee looked down at his leg after what he felt and thought was a bad cramp following a hit.

“When I looked down at it, I knew it was way more than a cramp,” Munsee said.

He had broken his tibia and fibula. On a scale of 1 to 10, he said the pain was “a definite 10.”

The devastating injury was supposed to end his high school career. Coming back from a broken leg in time to play any part of the upcoming basketball season seemed impossible; many teams stopped recruiting him.

“When the injury happened, a lot of those things fell apart because coaches either lost interest or didn’t believe that I could come back from an injury like that,” he said. “One that stuck with me even with the injury was Tacoma, and that was a huge reason why I’m committed. Coach TJ has a chip on his shoulder, and he believes in me, and I have a chip on my shoulder too, not being able to play and do what I wanted to do this season.”

Munsee hit rehab hard and defied the odds by returning for one game before the season ended, a district tournament loss to Carey in February. Just four months earlier, his lower leg had been broken in half.

Tyler Munsee signs with Tacoma Community College

Surrounded by family and his girlfriend, Lighthouse Christian's Tyler Munsee signs with Tacoma Community College Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at home in Twin Falls. The family livestreamed the event for his coaches and other family members, including his father who had to be at work.

“I don’t know of many kids who would put themselves through that type of punishment and pain to get back to where he needed to be to be able to play,” said Caughell, who never wavered in his commitment to Munsee through the injury.

While Munsee said he is not quite 100% yet and is not able to get rehab work done because of the COVID-19 outbreak, he said he is getting close. He also learned a lot from having to sit out most of the season and said it will motivate him for the rest of his life.

Stephens, a strong inside presence, completed the recruiting trio.

“It’s what really pushed me over the top to go there, because you never really hear that, getting to keep playing with two of your best friends,” Stephens said. “I think it’s going to be really fun.”

Stephens also said that the chemistry that the three players bring will be important, considering community college players only get two seasons to build rapport with teammates.

Block, who averaged 20.9 points and 13.4 rebounds while shooting nearly 58% from the field this season, is a versatile player with his 6-foot-5 frame.

“I feel like it was the best decision for me because my dream ever since I was tiny was to go play college basketball,” Block said. “I don’t think anybody’s going to stop me from doing that.”

Logan Stephens signs with Tacoma Community College

Lighthouse Christian's Logan Stephens signs with Tacoma Community College while his mother Stacy Stephens and her husband Rob Stephens look on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, at home in Twin Falls. The family livestreamed the event for his coaches.

Caughell said getting three recruits from one school, much less one as far away as Lighthouse is, is not common. But he feels like the trio, all three of whom played football for the Lions as well, will bring the toughness and desire to win that his program needs.

“This year, we wanted to make sure we were doing our due diligence and looking all over,” Caughell said. “We found them over there in Idaho. To get three guys from one school, that’s definitely strange.”

“I don’t know how to describe it but it worked out and it fit, and we’re excited about it,” he added.

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