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Posted On: 12/6/18 2:46 PM
It was one of the most anticipated games we’ve had in the Richmond area in a long time, as the youngest Ball brother and the controversial high school team that took him after he played professionally came to Virginia State to play Life Christian Academy. And while many thought it was going to be a blowout, LCA went tit for tat all the way to the end.
People came from far and wide to see Ball, and he didn’t disappoint. LaMelo finished with an impressive double-double, and the game was incredibly competitive. At the end of one LCA trailed 22-11, and they went even in the second quarter with both teams scoring 23 points and Spire leading 45-34 at the half. LCA made multiple runs in the second half, but every time they made a big run Spire answered. The Ohio based basketball academy ended up pulling away late and winning 91-79, but it was an entertaining and fun day of basketball nonetheless.
Here’s a look at some of the best things from throughout the game.
MVP: Lamelo Ball | Spire Institute 2019
With all of the hype surrounding Ball coming into this game, he responded with possibly his best game of the seasons, going for a double-double of 30 points and 13 assists. By shear numbers Ball wins this one, but it’s not like LCA didn’t play him tough or anything, they went at him and he responded. More on him coming up.
Play of the Game
It’s really hard to pick the best play from the game, because there were so many on both ends. In the second half, Spire forced a turnover and got out in transition. A long pass was thrown to Melo, who without hesitation threw a quick touch pass to senior Myron Gardner who threw down a big time two handed slam! I'm sure you've seen it!
Best Offensive Performer: LaMelo Ball | Spire Institute 2019
You want my honest opinion on LaMelo? He was one of the most talented players I have seen in my years doing this. He showed flashes of athleticism and tough shot making ability, hitting a few threes including a deep one off the bounce, although he was streaky from deep. At times he made good decisions, seeing the floor well, getting to the paint and taking off. He moved the ball well and was pretty unselfish, making plays for others too. The questions are the same, it’s all about his intangibles. He doesn’t seem engaged all of the time, he doesn’t seem to play hard all the time, he seems to play for the cameras and the highlight instead of making the right play all the time. I’m not trying to hate, just honestly evaluating the kid, but from a talent standpoint he did everything you’d ask and more, and he finished with 30 points and 13 assists which is impressive anywhere.
Best Defensive Performer: Marchelus Avery | Life Christian 2020
Avery is another guy that probably needs to work on his motor, but his natural ability on both ends of the floor was really impressive. He was at the top of the zone and the press, using his length and jumping passing lanes, and he used his length to contest and block shots as well. He was also one of the best offensive players on the floor as well, scoring
Best Guy off the Bench: Isaiah Jackson | Spire Institute 2020
I’m not sure if it was a discipline thing or something, but Jackson was the first guy off the bench for Spire instead of starting, although he did start the second half. Jackson has freakish athleticism for a guy with his size at about 6’10”, and he gets off the floor so effortlessly, yet dynamic. He made some very athletic plays on both ends of the floor, and he was a guy who was efficient and strong throughout the game. He finished with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and he had seven rebounds.
Best Intangibles: Antonio Bridy | Life Christian 2019
The senior point guard for LCA has a mix of street ball and crafty finishing ability that makes him a fan favorite and fun to watch. What he also brings in his street ball style is some toughness and the ability to step up and play big in big time games. Bridy went right at Ball and the rest of the Spire backcourt, finishing with 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds. He also had a big time block in the first half that the crowd loved.
Best Under the Radar Performer: Dominique Finney | Life Christian 2020
Finney has played a big time role for LCA in their 4-2 start on the season, and he’s stepped up in every big game so far. He finished with a team high 22 points in their win over Great Bridge Christian, and he continued that in the biggest game they’ve played yet. Finney came out hot with the first bucket, and he didn’t slow up this game either. He was efficient and dynamic, finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds shooting 6-for-8 from the floor on the game.
Best Mismatch Big: Myron Gardner | Spire Institute 2019
Gardner was one of my favorite players in the game, probably because I didn’t know as much about him as I did the other guys on both teams. Gardner is a stocky 6’6” combo forward with a solid skill set, good strength and the ability to be a mismatch anywhere. Offensively his team can go big and use him at the three where he can overpower smaller wings, but he’s most effective as a four man who can take his man out to the perimeter where he can shoot the basketball and take his man off the bounce. He finished with 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field and he pitched in five rebounds and four assists.
Best Guy off the Bench 2: Christian McLeod | Life Christian 2020
In a game that was dominated by the top guys, McLeod brought a great spark off of the bench for LCA, especially in the second half. In just 7 minutes, he scored nine points, hitting a corner three and getting a couple on second chance opportunities. His performance should lead to more minutes throughout the season with this group.
Best Part of Environment: Crowd Came From Everywhere!
There honestly weren’t quite as many people at the game as I expected. With all of the social media hype that’s been going on surrounding the Ball family and LaMelo in general, I expected the game to sell out. While it didn’t sell out, I saw kids and coaches from all over the place, as far as Fredericksburg, Virginia Beach, Charlottesville, that all came out to see if LaMelo was as real as advertised, and they weren’t disappointed.