Not a first for LeBron

Lebron James, playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School of Akron, Ohio, guards Strawberry Mansion's Maureece Rice at the Palestra on Sunday, December 22, 2002. (Jennifer Midberry/Daily News)

Nine years ago, LeBron James and St. Vincent-St. Mary's faced Maureece Rice and Strawberry Mansion at the Palestra in a high school game. The sold-out crowd saw the two stars put on a show, but St. V-M easily ran away with the score. In Sunday's Inquirer, we'll take a look back at that night through the eyes of high school scoring legend Maureece Rice.

The game capped off an all-day slate of boys’ basketball action featuring the area’s top-talent, including current Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (Penn Charter), Houston Rockets guard Kyle Lowry (Cardinal Dougherty) and future Penn sharpshooter Mark Zoller (St. Joe’s Prep).

Lowry hung around for the night game and watched alongside future Temple standout Mark Tyndale, who had played earlier in the day with Simon Gratz.

“I thought everyone was there to see me but, they fooled me. It was really exciting to see LeBron James before he became a big superstar” said Tyndale, who said he would’ve liked the chance to play against James.

Tyndale will be in the crowd again on Sunday at the Battle of I-95 and is getting ready to head back to Germany where he plays for Telekom Baskets Bonn.
“The European style is great, it was my first time in Europe last season,” said Tyndale. “I know what to expect out of myself and my team, I know what they want out of me.”

Here's the boxscore from the Dec. 22, 2002 game at the Palestra:

St. Vincent - St. Mary 16 20 29 20 – 85

Strawberry Mansion 8 7 10 22 – 47

SV: Marcus Allen 1, Sian Cotton 5, Treymaine Danzy 2, LeBron James 26, Marcus Johnson 11, Corey Jones 12, Dru Joyce 3, Willie McGee 6, Matt Ochsenhirt 2, Preston Sims 4, Romeo Travis 10, Brandon Weems, 3.

James shot 7-for-16 from the field, including 3-for-9 from three point range. He went 9-for-11 from the foul line. Then a 17-year-old, James added eight rebounds, five assists and seven steals along with two dunks.

SM: Anim Ackridge 2, Joe Caraway 6, Delton Morgan-Hines 11, Matt Johnson 2, Tyrell Mathis 5, David McFarland 1, Eugene Moss 2, Maureece Rice 13, Tracy Worley 5.

Rice shot 5-for-17, made two threes and added five rebounds, one assist and two steals. Mansion committed 23 turnovers.

-Matt Breen