Life Christian proves worth against elite
With eyes drawn to Spire and Ball, Eagles stand tall
LaVar Ball was his usual outspoken self after his son LaMelo Ball’s team, Spire, defeated Life Christian 91-79 at Virginia State University on Wednesday night.
“Spire is the most exciting, entertaining high school basketball team in the world,” Ball said.
The 2,000-plus fans in attendance show he has a case, but Life Christian, a Richmond-area school, showed it’s at least in the same ballpark.
The question is whether Life Christian has the potential to become a recognizable high school program around the country, with the likes of Oak Hill and St. Vincent-St. Mary, which produced LeBron James.
Life Christian certainly appeared to have the size and ability to compete with some of the nation’s top talent.
LCA also proved to possess the athleticism to create highlight-reel plays that garner big crowds and viral views on the internet. The continued collegiate recruitment of players like Marcellus Avery (Highland Springs), Logan Washington (Woodside) and Antonio Bridy (George Wythe) will also set the program apart.
Wednesday’s large turnout proves just how many people in the Richmond area are interested in high school basketball, and they now know how exciting LCA can be to watch.
Both teams’ pregame warm-up lines consisted of amazing feats of athleticism, from windmill dunks to “jelly” layups made popular by the University of Minnesota’s Now online
See photo highlights from the Spire-Life Christian showcase at Richmond.com.
Isaiah Washington and many others. However, excitement reached a new level in the arena as LaVar, decked out in his signature Big Baller Brand apparel, made his way into the gym alongside his middle son and ex-UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball.
The excitement to see the Ball family carried over to the game as onlookers cheered, wondering if Life Christian had what it took to knock off one of the most recognizable high school teams in the country. Every 3-point shot, dunk, and standout defensive play seemed to ignite the crowd with loud cheers and applause. The crowd was cheering for Life Christian, but many were clearly only present to heckle and root against LaMelo and his Spire teammates.
LaVar watched the game with a giant smile on his face as he laughed at the crowd’s reactions. He later said that this level of excitement and fanfare happens everywhere Spire travels. It is one reason why opponents of Spire often move the game to college stadiums or other large venues to accommodate the large, rowdy crowds.
“This is entertainment, that’s all it is,” said LaVar, when asked about LaMelo’s impact on the Spire team.
Spire’s visit to the Richmond area may be inspiration for LCA to continue to grow its program and gain even more respect on the national level. LCA likely caught the attention of many unsuspecting local basketball fans.
Life Christian Academy’s Marchellus Avery looks for a pass while guarded by Spire Institute’s LaMelo Ball (left) and Peter Filipority on Wednesday. Spire won 91-79.
A circus of attention surrounded LaVar Ball (center) and his son, LaMelo, as Life Christian hosted Spire Institute. LCA lost but kept things close, despite the challenge.