Fortegra final set: Providence goes for 3rd title

Defending champions Nease advance to championship game

Providence guard Chris Arias (right) lunges for the ball ahead of Oakleaf's Dylan Lewis in the semifinals of the Fortegra Invitational high school basketball tournament. (2022)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Fortegra Invitational may soon need to add Providence to the tournament’s title. Unless Nease has something to say about it.

For the third time in five years, Providence will play for the championship of the Fortegra High School 9:12 Basketball Invitational after the Stallions beat Oakleaf 58-53 in overtime on Friday in a thrilling semifinal matchup at FSCJ’s South Campus.

Nease will defend their championship after topping Sandalwood 42-23 in the nightcap to remain unbeaten on the season at 7-0.

But back to Providence. The Stallions needed extra time to put Oakleaf away. Jaylen Robinson’s three-point play with 1:50 to play in overtime gave Providence a 55-51 lead. The Stallions made their free throws in the final minute of the extra period to seal the win.

“We’ve got to clean up a lot of stuff but we’re going to get something out of tonight’s game,” said Providence head coach Jim Martin. “A blowout game you don’t get anything out of. Tonight was a good test.”

Providence overcame an early deficit to take a 27-21 halftime lead. But Oakleaf came back to take a short-lived lead in the fourth quarter. The game then went back and forth over the final five minutes. With the game tied at 48 in the final minute of regulation, Providence had the ball. The Stallions held for a final shot but committed a backcourt violation, giving the ball to Oakleaf with 7.5 seconds remaining, but Dylan Lewis’ jump shot glanced off the rim, sending the game to overtime.

Providence won the tournament the first two years it was played and has won all eight games they have played in the tournament’s history. The Stallions did not play in the tournament for the past two years.

Providence opened the tournament with a decisive 87-35 win over Mandarin on Thursday.

“Tomorrow, it will be another great test,” Martin said. “So if we’re not ready tomorrow night in the championship game, shame on us, but we’ll be ready.”

The championship and third-place games will be broadcast on CW17 and streamed on News4Jax plus beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday. The championship game is scheduled to tip off at 7:15 p.m.

Last year, Fleming Island beat Nease 59-31 in the championship game, but later forfeited the title when they were found to have used ineligible players.