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Jeff TullyIt’s a good thing Providence High...

Jeff Tully

It’s a good thing Providence High boys’ basketball co-Coaches Paolo

Velasco and Robert Mena are not prone to “what-if” thinking, or the

two might have pulled out their share of hair this season.


Instead, the two prefer to forget about past frustrations, which

probably have saved the coaches a few sleepless nights -- and some

future Rogaine bills.

On Wednesday, the Pioneers lost a Liberty League thriller to the


Sherman Oaks Buckley School, 64-61, in another close contest in the

Providence gym.

The loss for the Pioneers (17-5, 10-4 in league) was their third

in league by three points or less. Providence dropped two one-point

results to rival Encino Holy Martyrs.

“We really can’t sit around saying ‘what-if we would have won this

game or that game.’ That really does no good,” Mena said. “We try not

to look back on past losses because there’s nothing we can do about


them now.”

Although Velasco shares Mena’s philosophy, he reluctantly adds an

interesting bit of information.

“It’s true that we can’t change what has happened,” he said. “But

if we win those three close games, we are league champions.

“But in those losses, the guys played hard and they were out there

giving it their all.”

The defeat against the Griffins (17-7, 12-2) in the regular-season


finale gives the Pioneers a third-place finish in league. With the

playoffs beginning next week, Providence is hoping it can surprise

some teams and put together a run in the postseason.

“We didn’t reach our goal of winning a league championship,” Mena

said. “But we were right in it for most of the season.

“We know we are going to be on the road for the playoffs, but we

will just have to do the best we can and see what happens.”

Buckley, ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division VAA,

finishes the regular season as co-league champion with L.A. Yeshiva.

With Providence, Buckley, Holy Martyrs and Yeshiva battling it out

for a title late in the season, the Liberty League has a fine crop of


“The teams in this league just play old-fashioned basketball,”

Buckley Coach Dan Haasch said. “A lot of the games in league are

tough games. This league has really improved.”

The Pioneers were rolling along against Buckley until the third

quarter, as they fought to stake a 50-43 lead. However, with 5:38

remaining in the quarter, Pioneer post player Ian

Breckenridge-Jackson fouled out.

Breckenridge-Jackson had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

However, instead of shriveling after their starter’s departure,

the Pioneers continued to battle, especially in the fourth quarter.

The second-half play of Frank Catota, P.J. Sison and David Azer kept

Providence in the game.

With just eight seconds remaining, Pioneer Justin Nepomuceno hit a

clutch three-pointer from the left side to get Providence to within

one, 62-61.

After two free throws from Buckley’s Baron Abdoul- Mansour -- who

led all scorers with 24 points -- the Pioneers had one last chance to

tie the score. However, Harout Messrelian’s three-pointer at the

buzzer was no good.

Messrelian paced the Pioneers with 21 points and 11 rebounds.





Buckley 16 19 8 21 -- 64

Providence 18 14 16 13 -- 61




Abdoul-Mansour 24 and 16 rebounds, Gorog 17 and 9 rebounds, Tilia

10, Seisa 7, Scannell 6. * Three-pointers: Gorog 2, Scannell


Messrelian 21 and 11 rebounds, Breckenridge-Jackson 12 and 10

rebounds, Youssefian 8 and 6 assists, Catota 8, Nepomuceno 5, Azer

4, Sison 3. * Three-pointers: Messrelian 3, Nepomuceno