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Mayo can't nail ending as Love's team prevails

McDONALD'S HIGH SCHOOL ALL-AMERICAN GAME

March 29, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

LOUISVILLE, KY. — The color schemes were askew for a future Bruin and a future Trojan on Wednesday night at Freedom Hall, but one of them didn't seem to mind.

UCLA-bound Kevin Love was wearing red and USC-bound O.J. Mayo was feeling blue after his three-point attempt bounced off the rim with five seconds left, allowing Love and the West to escape with a 114-112 victory over Mayo and the East in the 30th McDonald's All-American high school basketball game.

Even though Mayo had made only four of 16 shots before his final attempt -- at one point prompting a fan to openly gripe, "Pass the ball, Mayo!" -- there was perhaps no one else his teammates would want to take a potential game-winner.

"I've hit that shot about 300 times," said Mayo, the 6-foot-5 point guard from Huntington (W.Va.) High. "It felt good. I just shot it a little bit long."

East guard Nick Calathes grabbed the rebound, but his scoop layup at the buzzer missed.

Mayo remained on the bench with a towel draped over his head afterward while West forward Michael Beasley received the most-valuable-player award from John Wooden. The Kansas State-bound Beasley finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

The game was a series of false starts for Mayo, who set the tone when he missed a three-pointer four seconds after tipoff. A few minutes later Mayo drew an audible "ooh" from the crowd during a smooth drive toward the basket, only to miss the layup.

Mayo's final line: 12 points on four-for-17 shooting. He made one of nine three-pointers and had one assist in 23 minutes.

Love, a 6-10 forward from Lake Oswego (Ore.) High, had 13 points on six-for-10 shooting and six rebounds in 20 minutes. He also had three assists.

"These games aren't fit for me," Love said. "I'm a big man. That's really the best I can do in an all-star game like that because there's so many crossovers and dunks."

Before they become college rivals, Love and Mayo will play together April 7 in Memphis, Tenn., for the USA team against a collection of international all-stars in the Nike Hoop Summit.

Mayo's most impressive moment came well after the game. Cole Gossett, a pre-teen boy from Bloomfield, Ky., was injured after a mad scramble for a pair of shoes that a player had tossed from a team bus.

After hearing about it, Mayo found Gossett crying in a trainer's room. Mayo signed his shirt and gave him the shoes he had worn in the game, autographing them as well.

At least one of them no longer felt like crying.

*

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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