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TAMPA — For the host team, much of the championship game of the Berkeley Prep Invitational played out like its semifinal with Wharton one night earlier.
The Buccaneers controlled the first half and dominated the third quarter. But also like Tuesday, Berkeley Prep managed to blow a large lead in the fourth quarter. Only this time, the Bucs couldn’t recover as they fell to Jacksonville Providence 45-42 Wednesday.
The Providence defense was the reason.
After leading 41-29 late in the third quarter, Berkeley Prep went cold. Providence, led by outstanding defensive effort, went on a 16-1 run that began in the third quarter and lasted until the end of the game. The Bucs missed all 10 of their shots in the fourth quarter, and their final 13 overall. Their only score in the fourth came on a single free throw.
Providence senior center Wayne Martin collected four of his nine blocks in the final period. He was named tournament MVP.
“Defense is something that Coach (Jim) Martin is constantly preaching to us,” Martin said. “We just stuck with it, came up with big stops, and we were fortunate to come out with the win.”
Berkeley Prep had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but 3-point attempts by Nelson Agholor and Reggie Barnes came up short.
“This was a great tournament win for us,” Jim Martin said. “Looking at the tournament board, I have no doubt that many of the teams that were involved in this tournament will be playing late into the playoffs.”
Wharton outlasted Gibbs 58-52 to take home the third-place trophy. A.J. Astroth capped an outstanding individual tournament performance by posting his third straight 30-point game. In earlier consolation games, First Academy defeated Kathleen 56-41 and Durant beat Bradenton Christian 80-59.