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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL 'King James' deploys his arsenal of dunks



Published: Thu, February 20, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



He moved into seventh on the career scoring list in Ohio with 2,463 points.

DAYTON (AP) -- "King James" crowned his regular season with a royal performance.

LeBron James wowed a sellout crowd at the University of Dayton Arena, scoring 22 points and showing off a variety of dunks Sunday as No. 1 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary beat Kettering Alter, 70-43.

Alter forward Doug Penno, who has played against James in AAU games since the fifth grade, said it all.

"He's a man amongst boys," said Penno. "A lot has changed since fifth grade. That's an understatement."

Although James didn't reach his average of 33 points per game, his acrobatics impressed the audience. James displayed a full arsenal of dunks -- the alley-oop, the one-handed and the tomahawk.

Alter coach Joe Petrocelli, who has 684 victories in 899 games he's coached, had high praise for James.

"He's better than anybody I've seen, and I've seen a lot of them in 40 years," Petrocelli said. "I think people got their money's worth."

The 6-foot-8 senior forward is expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft.

And he showed it.

Irish pull away early

Alter (11-8), which won state titles in 1999 and 2001, played a two-three zone to try to slow down James and the Irish (17-1) without luck.

With the game tied at 2, Akron went on a 10-0 run to make the score 12-2 and set the tone for the game.

In that span, James scored four points, fired a crosscourt pass for an assist and blocked a shot.

When Knights Alter forward Andrew Stichweh blocked a James shot, the Alter student section began to chant "overrated."

But James silenced those fans a minute later when he stole a pass and unleashed a tomahawk dunk that had the crowd gasping.

During the third quarter, James seemed content to feed his teammates. But he took time to make an alley-oop dunk and another tomahawk dunk on a breakaway.

Scoring

James finished with 11 rebounds, three blocks and three assists.

James' 22 points moved him to seventh on the career scoring list in Ohio with 2,463 points. He passed former Middletown High School and Ohio State star Jerry Lucas, who had 2,460 points.

James scored 46 points Friday against Zanesville and had a career-high 52 points in his previous game, against Westchester of Los Angeles. But he seemed content to get his teammates into the act Sunday.

"The kind of person I am is just what I showed on the court today," James said. "I maybe could score 50, I maybe could score 100 points maybe in one game."

Junior guard Corey Jones scored 20 points, and after the game James presented to Jones the MVP trophy awarded to James.

"I think somebody played better than me," James announced to the crowd.

Sports jersey flap

The Ohio High School Athletic Association had ruled the 18-year-old James ineligible for accepting two free retro sports jerseys worth a combined $845.

But Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge James Williams temporarily reinstated James on Feb. 5 and has scheduled a hearing for March 5 to decide whether to permanently block the association's ruling or uphold it.

Under the judge's ruling, James will sit out his team's final regular-season game against Toledo Scott on Feb. 23, but is free to play in the state tournament, at least until the March 5 hearing.

James said his final regular-season game was no more special than any other.

"Everytime I step on the court, it's special," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's the first game of the season or the last game of my career. You play every game like it's your last."




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