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Providence-St. Mel bounces back to win Class 2A third-place game

03/15/2014, 10:01pm CDT
By Patrick Z. McGavin

Providence-St. Mel quickly got over its state semifinal loss as Tevin King scored a game-high 18 points in the Knights’ 71-36 victory over PORTA to finished third in Class 2A on Saturday.

PEORIA — Tevin King knew deep down the performance Providence-St. Mel displayed in its loss to Bloomington Central Friday was not an accurate portrait of the Knights’ abilities.

“We needed to show people that we could bounce back from a loss,” King said.

King capped a great career in grand style as he scored a game-high 18 points and registered six rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals as Providence-St. Mel thrashed PORTA 71-36 in the Class 2A third-place game at Carver Arena Saturday night.

The Knights (26-7) captured their third state trophy in the program’s history. 

“It means the world to me,” Providence-St. Mel coach Tim Ervin said. “It’s historically significant, because it was 29 years ago that we won the [Class A] state title and it was 30 years ago that we took third, so to bring home a trophy that says third place, that’s awesome for me. Being a graduate of the school and all the time I’ve been around here and the impact it has had on my life.”

Providence-St. Mel recorded runs of 8-0, 9-0 and most decisively 18-0 at the end of the third quarter that turned the game into a rout. 

The Knights wanted to atone for the sluggish starts in the first and third quarter in the semifinal loss to Bloomington Central Catholic Friday night. King was the facilitator of the offense. 

“I wanted to get my guys going,” King said. “Yesterday was [a] slow start and I wanted to help them get in position to score because I know, I’m going to get my shots regardless.”

Senior forwards Josh McNeal and Bernard Lilly Jr. each recorded impressive bounce back efforts after the two shot a combined 2 of 14 from the field the night before. McNeal scored 17 points and added six rebounds. 

He scored eight points in the first quarter on an array of slashes and post up plays that pushed the Knights to the early 13-2 lead.

“I just wanted to come out and play as hard as I could, and my teammates helped put me in a great position to be effective on the court,” McNeal said. 

Lilly Jr. drilled four three-pointers in scoring 12 points and adding three rebounds with three assists.

The quick turnaround gave the Knights little opportunity to linger on the night before.

“It was definitely a tough loss last night,” Lilly Jr. said. “Coach told us when the clock struck 12 [midnight], it was a new day. You have to mentally prepare yourself for a game. They lost a game yesterday, just like we did. We had to go out there and play our game.”

Nic Sinclair scored a team-high 12 points for the Bluejays (26-7). He sparked a 10-0 run for PORTA in the second quarter that caught the Knights off guard. 

In quick succession, King, McNeal and Lilly Jr. answered with baskets, the three-pointer by Lilly Jr. punctuating the 9-0 run for a 29-16 lead at the break.

King dominated the third quarter by drilling consecutive pull up jumpers in transition as he scored eight points. He also assisted McNeal’s three-pointer. 

Ten different players scored for the Knights. Representing the future, freshman guard Eddie Burnett contributed seven points.

The moment belonged to the three seniors—King, McNeal and Lilly Jr. who made up a group that won four consecutive regional titles and three consecutive sectional titles. 

“After we lost [in the supersectional] by one last year, there was a lot of motivation for us to get down here, and I was very pleased and excited by what we did,” Ervin said.

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