LeBron James Scores 30; Case Takes Turn
BARBERTON, Ohio (AP) _ While lawyers continue to argue over his eligibility, LeBron James still owns the court. James took the first step toward another state title Friday night, scoring 30 points in three quarters to lead top-ranked Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to a 84-30 rout of Akron Kenmore in a Division II sectional final.
Just hours earlier, a lawyer for the Ohio High School Athletic Association _ which ruled James ineligible for accepting two ``throwback″ jerseys as gifts _ asked a judge to dismiss James’ case on the grounds that the 18-year-old superstar did not properly appeal the OHSAA’s ruling.
But while his future might be in question, James concentrated on what he can control.
The nation’s top player lived up to his billing with an awesome display of mind-blowing dunks, no-look passes and shots from every corner of the floor.
James’ night was over after three quarters. With his team up by 50 points, he spent the fourth on the bench, relaxing and resting for a March 5 tournament game in Canton.
``It’s March Madness now, no prisoners,″ James said. ``We’re just trying to take it to a new degree. It’s playoff time. If you lose one, you’re out _ whether you’re the best team in the country or the sorriest team in the country.″
James didn’t appear ready to sign any shoe deal or drive off to the NBA in his Hummer just yet. He and his Fighting Irish teammates are savoring his final days as an amateur.
``We want to go out and put the doubters to rest,″ James said. ``Play our game. There are a lot of teams out there that think we’re vulnerable. I hear that every day. There’s a lot of people that want us to lose, but right now we’re playing so great.″
In asking for a dismissal, OHSAA attorney Steven Craig argued that James ``cannot maintain the present action due to his failure to exhaust the administrative remedies afforded him.″
OHSAA commissioner Clair Muscaro decided on Jan. 31 that James had violated an amateur bylaw by accepting two sports jerseys from a Cleveland clothing store without paying for them.
Muscaro also ruled that St. Vincent-St. Mary, ranked No. 1 by USA Today, had to forfeit a win over Buchtel on Feb. 26 _ one day after James received the jerseys valued at $845.
James was temporarily reinstated on Feb. 4 by Summit County Court Judge James Williams, who ordered the 6-foot-8 senior to serve a two-game suspension.
By granting a temporary restraining order, Williams allowed James to continue playing. The judge has postponed an injunction hearing scheduled for March 5 and ordered James’ attorneys to respond to the OHSAA motion by March 10.
James was unaware of the OHSAA’s latest move.
``St. Vincent-St. Mary versus Kenmore,″ he said after the game, dismissing any questions about his case.
James, expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA draft, sat out the school’s regular-season finale on Monday and was back on the floor for the first time since Feb. 16.
He wasn’t rusty.
James scored 24 points, including at least 12 on an assortment of dunks in the first half as the Fighting Irish (19-1) opened a 55-19 halftime lead.
On his most impressive slam, James soared down the lane over a defenseless and stunned Kenmore forward Brett Woodring, who briefly thought about taking a charge.
As the sellout crowd of 2,450 cheered during a timeout, James strutted around the court, pointing to his chest and screaming after what was easily one of the best dunks of his celebrated career.
James didn’t know how to rate the dunk.
``You mean when I dunked on that dude?″ James said.
``It wasn’t his most stylish,″ guard Dru Joyce III said, interrupting his famous teammate.
``It was the most thunderous,″ James said. ``I showed my weight room.″
Woodring was impressed.
``What was I thinking?″ Woodring said. ``I was thinking, ‘What am I trying to do taking a charge?’ He just sailed right over me.″