Whether it was Providence’s ability to answer, a big scoring night from senior Jason Burnell, or key defensive stops on UCLA commit Prince Ali, Providence was able to do whatever it needed to win the 3A state title.
5 of 13 shooting from Ali combined with just four second half points from Illinois State commit Keyshawn Evans left Sagemont (29-4) without many answers in a second half.
Providence’s seniors stepped up big, highlighted by three of them finishing with double digits– Jason Burnell (26), Wyatt Walker (12), and LaDarien Griffin (11).
Burnell was given the green light to shoot and that’s exactly what he did. He scored 18 second half points and grabbed 12 rebounds– 6 of which were on the offensive end. He shot 50 percent from the field (6 of 12) in the second half after going 2 of 10 for eight points in the previous two quarters.
The Jacksonville-based bunch was 30 and 1 coming in to this game, and very well could have been undefeated if it hadn’t of been for a two point at the Arby Classic in Bristol, Tennessee to Centerville back in December.
Sagemont was able to keep the game close in the first half with timely three point shooting from senior guard A.J. Jurko, who made 4 of 6 from distance.
Sophomore Tyler Polley showed some of his versatility, but was only able to shoot 3 of 9 for 8 points. Polley will be an exciting player to watch the rest of his high school career because of his ability to handle the ball, rebound, and score in a variety of ways.
But Sagemont could not focus on the future while Providence kept making plays in the present.
Providence did not shoot the ball well (24 of 62 FG), but they had 12 assists as a team, only nine turnovers compared to Sagemont’s 15, and outrebounded Sagemont by 13 on the offensive end. Those 13 offensive rebounds resulted in 23 second chance points for the Stallions.
Seniors Deion Johnson and Ben Bobbitt did an excellent job on the perimeter, especially against Prince Ali. Both stayed low, moved their feet well, and stayed in front of the high flyer making it tough for him to get off. Ali did not make is first field goal of the game until the six minute mark in the third quarter. He managed to get seven straight points for Sagemont following his first field goal, but that was about it.
Keyshawn Evans finished with 17 points and 5 assists, but also had 5 turnovers. A disappointing performance considering he had 28 points in the semi-final victory over Cardinal Mooney.
Providence ends their season with their second state title in three years.