BURBANK — Yet again, defense proved to be the calling card for the Providence High girls’ basketball team.
Behind stifling pressure from a press that forced a flurry of turnovers, the Pioneers overwhelmed visiting Glendale Adventist Academy on Wednesday night, 45-25, to improve to 13-6 overall and 4-1 in the Liberty League.
“They just had trouble handling the ball against us,” Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. “And they’re not alone. That’s one thing we live on: our defense. That’s what this program is about.”
There was no doubt about that, especially early on. The Pioneers pressured the Cougars (3-7, 0-5) right out of the gate, using a half-court trap to force a handful of errant passes. Midway through the opening period, they had already built up a 12-2 lead as Glendale Adventist, which would score just three field goals in the opening period, seemed fazed.
“Our plan was to come out, trap and pressure them.” Bencze said. “Make them play faster than they wanted to.”
Although mounting an early lead and never trailing, the Pioneers hit a lull late in the first half, as they launched three-pointer after three-pointer, while struggling to penetrate the Cougars’ sagging 2-3 zone defense.
“It’s hard working against a zone to get the ball inside,” Bencze said. “And sometimes we don’t want to work that hard offensively. We just want to shoot the three. It’s an easy solution. You make a three, get three points and go ‘whooo!’ It’s great. But you know, we want to be disciplined offensively. You can’t depend on the three-point shot.”
Playing with renewed energy, Providence roared out from halftime to the tune of an 11-2 third quarter to put the game out of reach. Senior forward Kristie Kawamoto hit her stride, as well, scoring nine of her team-high 12 points in the second half to go along with three steals.
“We were more disciplined on defense,” Kawamoto said, “passing the ball a lot more on offense and just trying to attack the basket to score unlike the first half.”
Junior guard Katia Dabbaghian also recorded 10 points and sophomore guard Fabi Jimenez finished with eight points.
Glendale Adventist, though led by guard Madison Federici who scored a game-high 15 points, never could quite rally, done in by turnovers.
For Providence, the victory marked the team’s second straight win after a 61-38 loss at the hands of Fullerton Rosary, the No. 6-ranked team in Division IVAA, Thursday in a nonleague game.
“The loss of Rosary taught us how hard we really can play,” Bencze said. “Because we played just so hard to be in the game with Rosary that, the last couple games, we came out with the same intensity, we just executed a little bit better.”