Friday, January 25, 2013

10 years ago, Mentor took on LeBron James

Jeff Forman/

In a preview story for the Dunk 4 Diabetes Shootout this weekend, Mentor boys basketball coach Bob Krizancic likened the Cardinals’ opponent on Saturday, Huntington (Va.) Prep, to a 2003 trip to James A. Rhodes Arena to take on LeBron James and Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.

The 2003 matchup against James and Co. comes up from time to time around the office, mainly whenever “Pardon the Interruption” is on. That’s because one of the hosts, Tony Kornheiser, referred to the Cardinals as a “bunch of dopes” the day after the game.

If you’re a regular viewer of “PTI,” you know that when Kornheiser calls someone that, it’s not personal. If anything, it’s kind of cool, like a rite of passage in the sporting world. I’ll bet a lot of high school athletes would love to make it onto “PTI,” even if it’s for being on the wrong end of a 92-56 game, like Mentor was in January 2003.

Current feelings from most Cleveland fans about James aside, that was one of the most historic games to involve an area team. The JAR – the University of Akron’s home arena – was sold out, including about 1,500 Mentor fans.

The Cardinals came in on a six-game winning streak. But like every other school that played the USA Today No. 1 team in the country that season, it didn’t go well.

James, then listed at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, went for an SVSM-record 50 points before calling it a day 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.

He was 11 of 17 on 3-pointers, with four in the first quarter, two in the second, fourth in the third and one in the fourth.

As is its custom, Mentor pushed and pressed the entire game, which drew praise from Fighting Irish coach Dru Joyce.

“Mentor played hard,” Joyce said. “That is the first team in four years that tried to press us the whole game. That’s their game. I was a little surprised they stayed in it after we kept breaking it, but I give them credit.”

Another sign SVSM was playing on a different level came when James made a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, which meant free chalupas for everyone in the crowd. What’s more amazing, that a high school team was doing a chalupa giveway, or that the minimum was 85 points? Over the course of a 48-minute NBA game, that would be 128 points.

James’ buzzer-beater gave him 45 points heading into the fourth quarter. He added five more before leaving the game.

“He is definitely the best high school player I have ever seen,” Krizancic said after the game. “Some of those 3-pointers were dribble and fade-back shots that is more of an NBA move. He impressed me. We wanted to keep him outside, but he just kept draining the shots. He really put on a show.”

-- Howard Primer


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home