After trailing by nearly 20 points at the half, the North went to the franchise and he delivered. LeBron James, a late addition to the Festival, tossed in 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and was the centerpiece of a spirited comeback, which won the Gold Medal for the North.
Without Carmelo Anthony and Mario Boggan, the East rushed out to a 24-8 lead at the end of the first period. While the first half totally belonged to JJ Redick, Rashad McCants and Co., the second half was another story.
James took control of the basketball game. At times, he put the North on his back and just willed them inch closer and closer until they actually took the lead. Along the way, there were some big threes mixed in with an acrobatic finish or two. The play that everyone at the tournament will remember for a long time was actually a transition bucket. James caught the pass at about midcourt and dribbled to the wing where he turned on the burners and launched himself from a considerable distance right at the basket. He threw down a mean one-handed almost tomahawk dunk that had a lot to do with the turning of the tide in the North's favor.
Actually, the North didn't take its first lead until late in the fourth quarter when Sean Dockery found James rolling to the basket. Then, it got interesting. Redick came back and bombed a 3 to give the East the 81-80 lead. The North countered with a Michael Thompson tip-in and then a John Gilchrist free throw tied the game at 82.
With 4.3 seconds remaining in the game, Horner cut to the basket with the ball and was met by Torin Francis and fouled. Horner calmly made the first free throw to give the North the lead but clanked the second one but it wouldn't matter. A last second effort from John Gilchrist came after the buzzer and the North won 83-82.
It was fitting that Horner make the game-winner because of all the elite point guards who struggled at camp, it was he who turned in the most complete weekend. He played well with James in the final as the two appeared to be on the same page most of the time. Horner finished with 14 points.
Francis had a double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) to lead the East.
NOTES: Francis took an elbow to the face, actually he caught it right in the mouth. The result was a front tooth that was actually split in half. No doubt he's going to be spending some time in the dentist's office on Monday. … If the East wants to look at one area that may have cost them dearly in the title game, it would have to be rebounding and second chance points. The North outrebounded the East 60-38. James had 10 boards, Matt Trannon 14 and Sean May 10. … Complete tournament evaluations will be available late Monday or early Tuesday morning as I will be traveling back to the East Coast on Monday. A reminder: BCH will be covering the Atlanta Celtics Invitational later this week.