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
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
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
-- Howard Primer