EUCLID, Ohio -- In a game between two teams loaded with some of the top talent in the state, the most competitive portion of Thursday night's matchup between SPIRE Institute and Garfield Heights came at halftime.
That was when LaVar Ball and his middle son, LiAngelo, took center court at the high school gymnasium. There, more than 100 fans formed a semicircle, jostling for position for the opportunity to take a picture with the reality TV star dad and his only son who isn't currently playing organized basketball.
It was that kind of night at Euclid High School, which hosted the highly anticipated matchup between one of the most talented prep programs in the country (Spire) and one of Northeast Ohio's most promising high school teams (Garfield Heights). But from the moment SPIRE strolled into the high school gym, the disparity between the two teams was clear, as was ultimately reflected in the final score -- a 93-60 SPIRE victory.
As expected, the star of the night was Ball's youngest son, senior LaMelo Ball, whose family business opened a pop-up shop in the hallway prior to the game. With several fans in the standing room only crowd wearing "Big Baller Brand" t-shirts, the LaMelo show started in pregame warmups, in what became a de facto dunk contest for the majority of the SPIRE roster.
Ball -- a former 5-star prospect once committed to UCLA -- recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds on the night, despite being pulled from the blowout with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. His final on-court sequence came when he converted on an impressive ball fake layup, before stealing the inbounds pass for another layup.
What's more is Ball wasn't even the best player on the court.
That honor belonged to junior Isaiah Jackson, a 5-star prospect and Ohio's top-ranked player in the 2020 class. The 6-foot-9 forward showcased his springy athleticism on both sides of the court, scoring a team-high 18 points, two of which came on this alley-oop pass from Ball.
In addition to Ball -- whose own college eligibility is unclear -- and Jackson, SPIRE lays claim to 4-star guard Rocket Watts, a Michigan State commit who is also Ohio top-ranked player in 2019.
To its credit, Garfield Heights is far from short on talent.
Three-star guard Meechie Johnson scored 20 points, while Sonny Johnson Jr. added 18. But with their best players on Thursday being a sophomore and a junior, respectively, the lights appeared too bright for the Bulldogs in a game that was about everything except the game itself.