LOS ANGELES (AP) – Darryl Strawberry’s son couldn’t stop LeBron James, but he at least slowed him down.
Despite a relatively off night, James and his top-ranked Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary team held off D.J. Strawberry and fifth-ranked Santa Ana Mater Dei in a 64-58 victory Saturday night.
Strawberry held James, considered the best high school player in the country, to 21 points, his second-lowest total of the season, on 8-of-24 shooting before a sellout crowd of approximately 12,000 at Pauley Pavilion and a national television audience on ESPN2.
“I think I did enough to help my team win, besides not shooting the ball well,” James said. “I was doing everything a shooter needs to do – jumping straight up in the air, holding my follow-through. It seemed like my last five shots went in and out. I had an off night, but we got a victory.”
James also had nine rebounds and seven assists as the Fighting Irish improved to 8-0.
James, 17, is expected to bypass college and become the first player chosen in the NBA draft. He has become one of the most talked about high school players ever after appearing on the covers of Sports Illustrated and other publications.
Strawberry and his team left without commenting.
“Every night, he’s not going to shoot the ball great,” St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dru Joyce said. “That’s the game. Sometimes you are going to shoot well, sometimes you aren’t. But there are other things. He still rebounded, defended and blocked shots. The bottom line is it’s an ugly win, but it’s a win.”
Strawberry finished with seven points. Wesley Washington, who has signed with Minnesota, led Mater Dei (15-2) with 18 points, and Marcell Jones added 14.
James’ first shot of the game was an airball and he missed his next five attempts before making a layup with 1:18 left in the eight-minute first quarter. James also had a flashy assist on a backwards bounce pass between the legs to Romeo Travis, who dunked.
After the first quarter ended tied 11-11, James scored eleven in the second quarter and had an assist on Dru Joyce’s 3-pointer. James’ basket to close the half gave St. Vincent-St. Mary a 30-24 halftime lead.
James missed both his third-quarter shots and his offensive output was limited to two free throws as St. Vincent-St. Mary increased its lead to 46-36.
James made two of four shots in the fourth quarter.
Travis and Corey Jones finished with 12 points, and Joyce had 10 for St. Vincent-St. Mary.