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National champs

James gang named the best by USA Today

Posted: Tuesday April 01, 2003 6:55 PM
  LeBron James LeBron James was head and shoulders above the competition. AP

AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- LeBron James and his St. Vincent-St. Mary teammates have accomplished their childhood dream.

The Fighting Irish, who recently won their third state title in the last four years, were named boys high school basketball national champions in Tuesday's edition of USA Today.

Forward Sian Cotton said it's a goal they had been pursuing since the eighth grade.

"It's kind of bittersweet, though," said Cotton, who will play football at Ohio State next year. "We're national champs, but now it's all over. We've capped this portion of our lives, and we've done it with a national title, and you can't get any better than that."

The Irish finished the season with a 25-1 record and defeated three teams that were in the top five of USA Today's final rankings: Oak Hill Academy of Mouth of Wilson, Va.; Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif.; and Los Angeles Westchester.

Their only loss was a forfeit, the result of a court ruling regarding an eligibility issue surrounding James, the nation's top high school basketball player and expected top pick in this summer's NBA draft.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association ruled that James was ineligible for accepting two "throwback" sports jerseys valued at a combined $845 from a Cleveland clothing store. James' family went to court and got him reinstated.

"For all they went through during the season, with all the ups and downs and all the scrutiny, I am extremely happy for them," coach Dru Joyce II said. "This is not something I was pointing to. I would have been happy to be state champs, but because of our schedule and the way they ran the table, the national championship became a reality."

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