Spire Institute vs Life Christian Academy at Virginia State University (12-5-18)

By:Lamonte Thomas

Headline Photo Credit: Lamonte Thomas-LMS Network

ETTRICK,VA- Wednesday, December 5 2018– The Virginia State University Multi-Purpose Center doors opened at 5:45 PM  on a brisk night to lines of people awaiting for the basketball showdown. For a high school basketball game, the 2,000 people in attendance encompassed a college atmosphere; a vibe that remained throughout the venu from warm-ups until the parking lot emptied. The main attraction was a layup to see as Big Baller Brand t-shirts were in abundance. LaMelo Ball, son of Lavar ball (entrepreneur and known for creating media-mania concerning the three Ball brothers) took to the court as Spire Institute from Geneva, Ohio squared off against Life Christian Academy of Chester, Virginia.

Lavar and Melo’s older brother LiAngelo sat front row and received much love, yet support for the hometown Life Christian Eagles was also in abundance. Two narratives remained to be told on this night– how good are the LIfe Christian Eagles led by head coach Mike Cherry and– Is LaMelo Ball worth the international hype; from playing overseas professionally to being next up after his brothers Lonzo (Los Angeles Laker) and LiAngelo (formerly with UCLA Bruins)? 

Life Christian would come out strong behind Marcellus Avery, who led the team to an early lead. Melo Ball responded to his hecklers with two three-pointers after missing his first. The pace of the game remained fast; as there were back and forth high-flying dunks, blocks and no look passes on the break. At the end of the first quarter Spire led LCA 22-11. They would not let go of the lead thereafter.

The Virginia basketball community would not be disappointed as LCA went on a few runs to close the gap. Though they never tied the score, they cut the Spire lead to eight, six and eventually four points throughout the game. Four Eagles players scored double figures– Avery led the team with 26 points, Dominique Finney had 16, while Antonio Bridy and Logan Washington each contributed 12.

Every time LIfe Christian seemed to get within grasp, Melo Ball and Spire institute would push the lead back to 10. Ball appeared to be well-conditioned, as he never came out of the game. He demonstrated quickness and canny ball-handling skills when driving to the basket, finding his teammates for 13 assists to go along with his 30 points. Myron Gardner had 19 points for Spire and three others were in double figures Jackson (16) Lockett (14) and Watts (10). Lavar later explained that Melo–the youngest of the three Ball Brothers- “is catching lobs, Gelo (LiAngelo) is jumping over the rim,” and will be excited when  “all three of them get together” (meaning in the NBA). LaMelo Ball electrified the crowd with several dunks- including a two-handed put back slam and a dunk over a LCA defender in the game’s final minutes. He was also the facilitator of a few monster alley-oops to big man Isaiah Jackson, who flushed it down with authority. Spire Institute defeated Life Christian Academy 91-79 in the high school thriller. 

After the game, Lavar Ball spoke to the media about Spire’s athletes and how they mesh with LaMelo’s game. He shouted “The best high school team in the country is Spire, everybody knows that!” After the interviews he embraced with LCA head coach Mike Cherry and took numerous photos with fans of his “Big Baller Brand” apparel and shoe business. Just like their reality show “Ball in the Family” indicates the Ball family brings a culture to the entertainment and basketball industry in a fashion like we’ve never seen before.