It was going to be a difficult task for the Providence High boys' basketball team to repeat its exploits from last season in the CIF Southern Section playoffs when it advanced to the Division V-AA championship for the first time in program history.
That became apparent when Pioneers super sophomore Marcus LoVett Jr. departed the team last month. In fact, Providence just qualified for the postseason after placing fourth in the Liberty League.
But the Pioneers were hoping to make some noise Wednesday when they opened the playoffs on the road against Lancaster Desert Christian. But Providence just didn’t have enough, as it saw its season come to a close with a 72-66 loss.
“The effort was there for us,” Providence Coach Ernest Baskerville said. “We just didn’t capitalize on our opportunities. We also had trouble rebounding, which had been a problem for us all season and we had guys get into foul trouble in the second half.”
The Pioneers ended the season with a 10-17 record.
Baskerville said not having LoVett and two other players who he thought were going to be with the team this season definitely put the Pioneers at a disadvantage. Along with LoVett, Providence also had a transfer that was ruled ineligible and another starter who broke his leg prior to the season.
“With any of those guys in for us I think we win the game,” Baskerville said.
LoVett was last season’s All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year and is considered one of the top sophomores in the nation.
The Pioneers received a fine effort from junior Christian Ware-Berry, who poured in 37 points.
Providence played well in the first quarter against the Knights (18-7), who won the Desert Mountain League championship. The Pioneers jumped to a 21-12 lead after one quarter.
The team surrendered some of its lead in the second, but still had an eight-point advantage at the half.
“Then we just couldn’t score in the third,” Baskerville said.
The Pioneers had three players in foul trouble in the second half, including Ware-Berry, who fouled out with two minutes remaining.