Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game for February 21 – Jalen Speer (P.K. Yonge)
The Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game for Thursday, February 21, is Jalen Speer of the P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) boys’ basketball team.
Speer knocked down five three-pointers and scored a game-high 25 points as the Blue Wave slipped past Providence (Jacksonville), 63-61, in a Region 1-4A semifinal at Hoskins Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The junior was pretty quiet in the opening half, with only five points, but seniors Byron Smith and Israel Wilcox picked up the slack for P.K. Yonge with 10 and eight points, respectively, and the Blue Wave withstood a 10-0 run by the Stallions late in the 2nd period to take a 25-24 lead into the halftime break.
Speer heated up in the third quarter.
After Providence moved out a four-point lead on a couple of occasions, he hit a couple of treys as P.K. Yonge reclaimed the lead 44-43 heading into the final period. Wilcox also knocked down a couple of shots behind the arc and scored 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter.
Speer saved his best for last in the 4th quarter, hitting two more three pointers and knocking down four clutch free throws to keep the Blue Wave in the lead. Providence led 56-52 with a little over two minutes remaining, but Speer’s final three pointer of the game gave P.K. Yonge a 57-56 lead.
Speer had 20 of his 25 points in the second half. Wilcox scored all 18 of his points in the first and third quarters, and Smith scored 10 of his 15 points in the opening half.
P.K. Yonge snapped a five-game losing streak against Providence a year ago in the Region 1-4A final, as Wilcox hit a short jumper at the buzzer to beat the Stallions 43-42 and send the Blue Wave to the state semifinals in Lakeland for the first time since 2008. Now the Blue Wave have a winning streak against Providence.
P.K. Yonge, which made 10 three pointers in the win, improve to 23-4 and will travel to Jacksonville to take on University Christian in the Region 1-4A final with the winner advancing to the state semifinals in Lakeland the following week.
Providence, which has three state titles and seven state semifinal appearances under Jim Martin, finishes its season at 22-5.
Every game The Prep Zone will recognize a Player-of-the-Game. The recipient receives a $10 gift certificate courtesy of Sonic Drive-In of Gainesville & Ocala.