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February 28, 2013
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State titles are becoming a tradition for the Providence Stallions.
Providence rallied from a nine-point first half deficit, took the lead in the second quarter, and never trailed the rest of the way as the Stallions defeated Coral Springs Christian, 62-56, in the 3A state championship game at the Lakeland Center.
It's the second state title in four years for Providence, which also won a state title in baseball last spring. In 2010, the Stallions won the Class 2A championship behind Patric Young, Will Cummings, and Stacey Poole, Jr.
This time, it was junior Grayson Allen who led Providence back to the promised land.
Allen, the #44 junior in the country according to Rivals, scored 31 points, including four three-point shots. He scored 27 of his 31 in the first three quarters as Providence (30-1) took a 45-32 lead into the final period.
Coral Springs Christian (24-9) made it close, cutting it to six points on a couple of occasions. But that was as close as the Crusaders would get.
"I got off to a slow start," said Allen, who only scored five points in the first quarter. "Once I finally got it going, I kept it up."
Coral Springs Christian keyed on Allen a bit in the fourth quarter, and he only scored four points on free throws. But another junior Christian Terrell stepped up with nine of his 13 points to keep Providence ahead. David Sharpe also finished in double figures with 10 points and six rebounds.
"I knew their goal was to take me out of the game in the fourth quarter," Allen said. "I have 100 percent confidence in my teammates and I knew they would get it done."
Providence coach Jim Martin agreed.
"Sharpe and Terrell played well," he said. "Grayson is definitely our leader but we know this championship is a real team effort."
Coral Springs Christian was led in scoring by Brandon Spencer, who scored 15 points, including four three-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Crusaders tried to come back. Alaowei Talent added 13 points and Long Island signee Nura Zanna chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
But after scoring six points in the opening period, Zanna only had one more field goal and played most of the fourth quarter with four fouls. The Providence inside trio of Sharpe and Wyatt Walker also combined to help shut down Zanna.
"We saw how good he is," Martin said. "We wanted to take him out of the game as quickly as possible."
Providence did, and now they are taking another state title back to Jacksonville.
And with Allen, Sharpe, Terrell and Walker returning to the Stallions next season, the goal will once again be to return to Lakeland.