For two consecutive years Providence-St. Mel has experienced jubilation and heartbreak.
The Knights won back-to-back sectional titles only to watch their dreams of Peoria ruined in supersectional losses to Seton. Three senior starters are ready to make that next step.
“This is our year, with the best group we’ve had, and the closest we’ve been,” senior guard Bernard Lilly Jr. Said.
The Knights scored the opening 27 points in shutting out Power House for nearly 10 minutes as Providence-St. Mel routed the Panthers 82-43 in a Class 2A Cristo Rey Regional semifinal Wednesday in Pilsen.
Lilly connected on four three-pointers in scoring 16 points, his mark equalled by Josh McNeal as the Knights posted their 20th victory of the year. Providence-St. Mel established the dominant tone at the start, shooting 10-of-17 and three three-pointers and forcing 13 turnovers in shutting out the Panthers 24-0 in the first quarter.
Lilly scored 13 of his game-high total in the first half. He had all three of the Knights’ first quarter three-pointers. McNeal scored 12 of his total in the first half. “I had been in a bit of a shooting slump, so I spent a lot of time working on my shot,” Lilly said.
“Even so my teammates have a lot of confidence in me and they got me the ball in great spots in the first quarter.”
The opening run reached 27-0 until the Panthers’ senior guard Xavier McNeal hit a leaner in the lane with 6:30 remaining in the first half. The Knights (20-6) bolted to a commanding 48-12 lead at the break.
“We are very motivated, and the kind of statement we wanted to make was not just to win, because we felt pretty confident that we could win the game, but play with enthusiasm, discipline and energy, and win the game in a good way,” McNeal said.
Tyler Turner scored 10 points and added seven rebounds and senior guard Tevin King did a little bit of everything by scoring nine points and registering six steals, five assists and two blocked shots.
Freshman guard Eddie Burnett hit three three-pointers in scoring 15 points with the second unit.
Senior guard Trebore Byndom hit three three-pointers in scoring a team-best 10 points for the Panthers (9-10).