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LeBron James, in town for Celtics-Lakers, detours to Springfield to catch son’s game

LeBron James takes in the action at the Hoophall Classic Monday afternoon.
LeBron James takes in the action at the Hoophall Classic Monday afternoon.Shawn McFarland for the Boston Globe

SPRINGFIELD – When LeBron James is sitting courtside, everything becomes elevated.

That included the performance of Paul VI Catholic (Va.) in Monday’s tilt against Sierra Canyon (Calif.) at the 19th Hoophall Classic.

With James sitting in a restricted area behind the baseline to watch his son, LeBron Jr., before heading to TD Garden to lead his Lakers against the Celtics, Paul VI buckled down for a 70-62 victory at Springfield College.

“When you see LeBron, you’ve got to show out,” said Paul VI senior guard Jeremy Roach, who is committed to Duke. “That’s what you live for. That’s why you come to [Hoophall], to take advantage of those opportunities.”


Roach (16 points, 7 assists) combined with backcourt mate Trevor Keels (game-high 24 points) to help Paul VI — ranked No. 13 in ESPN’s latest national poll — pull ahead of No. 14 Sierra Canyon in the second half and hold on for the victory.

With “Bronny” logging 13 minutes off the bench for Sierra Canyon, James got progressively more invested in the action, at one point standing up to address a referee about a non-call when his freshman son attacked the rim.

Sierra Canyon trailed, 53-47, after three quarters and could not fully close the gap despite stellar play from top recruits Brandon Boston Jr. (20 points), Ziaire Williams (15 points), and 7-foot-3-inch center Harold Yu (12 points, 6 rebounds).

But when Roach stripped the Kentucky-bound Boston at midcourt and flushed to make it 64-57 with 2:19 remaining, James started to prepare for his police-escorted commute back to Boston.

It was a vastly different outcome from Sierra Canyon’s showstopping 90-57 win over Dominican (Wis.) Saturday night, but the spectacle surrounding the California prep school was greater.

“I’m building a team and keeping my head down,” said Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier. “I try not to look at the lights and everything that surround us.


“At Sierra Canyon, we try to give kids the opportunity to experience what it’s going to be like at the next level. So dealing with the travel, and seeing different levels and cultures of basketball . . . is part of that.”

Bronny James, of the Sierra Canyon Blazers, plays in a 19th Hoophall Classic basketball game.
Bronny James, of the Sierra Canyon Blazers, plays in a 19th Hoophall Classic basketball game.Shawn McFarland for the Boston Globe

As a freshman, seeing the floor against elite competition is an accomplishment for LeBron Jr. Staying focused despite all the lights, cameras, and shenanigans from the crowd (a fan reportedly threw a food item at Bronny during an inbounds sequence) is even more impressive to his coach.

“I didn’t see it until I got here,’’ his father said after his Lakers lost to the Celtics, 139-107, at TD Garden later Monday night. “I was on the complete opposite end of the floor. I did see the referee stop the game and then the cop came up there. But I didn’t even know what happened until the video evidence showed me when I got here.

“It’s just disrespectful. It was a little kid, too. I don’t know how old that little kid was. So, I don’t know. I don’t know if he learned that on his own or he learned that at home, whatever the case may be. It’s disrespectful. I wonder how old that kid is, if he was the age around Bronny’s age or Bryce’s age. I would like to see him try that while they’re paying attention.”

For Roach, a top prospect with plenty of fanfare in his own right, Bronny’s situation is different.


“It’s real tough,” said Roach. “He’s only a freshman, so he’s still got to learn. Everyone is expecting him to be LeBron, but he’s his own self. He just has to keep working.”

LeBron was told a couple of teammates said Bronny goes through a lot of things.

“Yeah, he does,’’ LeBron said.

Asked if he discussed it with his son, LeBron said, “Nah, because he’s a cool, calm kid. He’s better than his mom and dad, let’s just say that. He’s better than his mom and dad for some of the things that he kind of let’s off his shoulders.

“I guess he’s taking up for me too, because I let a lot of [stuff] go too. He’s a great kid and most importantly he just loves being around his teammates, being a great kid, being a model citizen in the community, and playing the game that he loves to play, being a big brother to his brother and sister. But that [expletive] earlier made me mad when I saw that. It’s just disrespectful.”

Adam Himmelsbach of the Globe staff contributed to this report from TD Garden. Nate Weitzer can be reached at nathaniel.weitzer@globe.com.