High school LeBron James was unstoppable. He was almost invincible. James was on the cusp of having a perfect record for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, but Roger Bacon had other plans in mind. Meet the only team that defeated James and inflicted the only loss in his high school career.
Winning a championship over LeBron James
Playing with HS phenom James was a dream for many, but Roger Bacon players needed to prove they belonged on the same court with him. In 2002, an unexpected thing happened. An Ohio team beat James' Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary and clinched the Division II state championship to the tune of 63-71. Not only did Roger Bacon prove they belonged, but they also made it historically memorable.
It was a feat that only gets bigger and better through time. As James ascends to superstardom and cements his legacy as one of the best to ever do it, the players of Roger Bacon claim it makes the victory sweeter.
But how did they pull it off? The simple answer is by playing team basketball. James scored 32 points but only had one teammate who scored double-digit. Meanwhile, four players scored at least 13 points apiece for the Catholic school, led by Josh Hausfeld's 23 points.
Meet the King Slayers
Hausfeld remembered the first game, in which they lost 70-79; everyone was just starstruck, even the game officials.
"The refs were taking pictures and getting autographs with him. He was larger than life."
He later revealed the goal wasn't to win but to study how James and his team operate. Once the game was over, Roger Bacon boys had built the belief that they could hang with their opponents. But also, in their next game, LeBron James made a guarantee of winning that he would regret later on. It lit a fire in Roger Bacon players' bellies. It was all they needed to hear.
Early in the game, Beckham Wyrick sent a message to LeBron: he shoved him in the gut. It wasn't dirty, but the intent was clear, it won't be a walk in the park for their opponents. However, LeBron still did LeBron things, making shots he could only make, including an attempt beyond the half-court. It was disheartening to see it go in, but Roger Bacon boys kept the faith.
When it went down the wire, St. Vincent-St. Mary had the last possession. LeBron James had the chance to win it, but he passed to his teammate for a 3, which he missed. Roger Bacon forward, Frank Phillips knew it was the right play then.
“That was LeBron being LeBron. He's always looking for a better shot. He's always pass first. So he did make a good pass, and it was a good shot from [Mraz]. He just missed it."
If bashers ridiculed James for deferring to his teammates for game-winning moments, they probably haven't watched him long enough to see that as early as high school. Instead, the King was already looking for more wide-open teammates rather than creating for himself.
Now, all the players of Roger Bacon who won the 2002 championship share a bond that would last a lifetime. The fairy tale they helped write would be passed on to their children and the next generation. No one gave them a chance, but they believed in themselves. But, as with any underdog story, it all starts with belief, and the rest will follow.