ST. PETERSBURG — From the moment Orlando Liberty Christian Prep's Tacko Fall ducked his head to emerge from the locker room, he was the main attraction.
Cameras flashed and jaws dropped Tuesday as fans followed the big man's every elongated step.
Fall, a 7-foot-6 forward who is the nation's tallest high school player, surveyed the frenzy that surrounded him. As soon as the game started, he made his presence known, grabbing rebounds and depositing the ball in the basket as if he were placing a book on shelf.
The UCF signee finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots to help his team to a 77-70 victory.
"It was a great scene," Fall said. "I enjoyed it. This was a good win for us. We just came out and did what we had to do."
Fall and Lakewood guard Anthony Lawrence Jr. are teammates in the offseason with the travel team Each 1, Teach 1. That friendship prompted Spartans coach Anthony Lawrence Sr. to schedule the regular-season game.
"This was a great atmosphere and good for the city of St. Petersburg," Lawrence Sr. said. "We didn't win, but it was a really good game."
Liberty Christian dominated early and led 44-28 at the half. The lone bright spot was Lawrence Jr., who had two dunks, including one on Fall.
"Tacko and I talked before the game," Lawrence Jr. said. "I told him I was going to dunk on him."
In the second half, Lakewood (4-3) rallied, thanks to the long-range shooting of Kevon Woods, who had 30 points, including eight 3-pointers.
In the final two minutes, the Spartans cut the lead to 69-66. Then Fall grabbed two crucial rebounds, had two dunks and a needed free throw down the stretch to pull away.
Miami coach Jim Larranaga attended the game to watch Lawrence Jr., who signed with the Hurricanes in November. Lawrence Jr. finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
"It was a fun game," Lawrence Jr. said. "But I think a lot were more fans during the game. We seemed to be intimidated by the height."