BURBANK — The fourth quarter couldn’t have started any better for the Providence High girls’ basketball team.
The Pioneers had been struggling offensively all game and were down by two heading into the final quarter. That quickly changed as two straight Brethren Christian turnovers gave Providence a two-point edge 30 seconds into the quarter.
The final eight minutes were back and forth, featuring three ties, but the Pioneers didn’t trail the rest of the way, as they outlasted 14th-seeded Brethren Christian for a 42-40 home win in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division VAA playoffs.
It was a wild game that was fun to watch, but may have not been so good for the health of Pioneers Coach Andrew Bencze, who jokingly said after the game that he nearly had a heart attack.
“It wasn’t fun to coach until the final buzzer,” Bencze said with a sigh of relief.
The victory puts the No. 3 seed Pioneers (24-4) in the quarterfinals for the second time in school history and first time since 2007. They will face either Desert or Mesa Grande.
Estelle Glorioso was responsible for giving the Pioneers the quick fourth-quarter lead, 33-31, 30 seconds into the fourth by cashing in two Brethren Christian (20-10) turnovers for layups.
Her first score was sparked by a steal from teammate Katia Dabbaghian, who threw an outlet pass to Glorioso, on the Warriors’ first possession of the quarter. Glorioso grabbed a steal on the ensuing possession and ran halfway down the court for another layup.
“Estelle is so athletic and so good on defense, I know she’s a 4- or 6-0 run waiting to happen and we got it at the right time,” Bencze said.
It gave Providence its first lead since a 6-4 advantage five minutes into the contest.
“It felt good [taking the lead again],” said Glorioso, who finished with eight points and four steals. “I didn’t think I could do it, but work hard and you never know what can happen.”
The Warriors tied the game back up at 33, but Providence’s Janel Adraneda (11 points) ensured a victory, as she nailed consecutive layups to give her team a 40-34 edge with 3:48 to go.
A 6-0 run from Brethren Christian knotted the game back at 40 with 2:05 to go. Both offenses went cold for the next two minutes, but Adraneda ended the scoring drought with a clutch layup to give her team a 42-40 lead with 10 seconds remaining.
The Warriors had a shot at another tie after a foul put them on the line for a one-and-one with five seconds left. The free throw was missed and rebounded by Providence’s Amanda Reyes to seal the win.
“You got to give credit to the girls, they just played their hearts out,” Bencze said. “Really in the end, I think [Brethren Christian] got a little tired and we handled the nerves a little better than they did.”
Things weren’t looking good for the Pioneers, down 26-19 with six minutes to go in the third quarter, but a technical foul called on the Brethren Christian coach after Providence’s Bea Benedicto (seven points) nailed a tough bucket allowed them to trim the lead.
Dabbaghian made one free throw, but hit a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to bring her team within one, 26-25, with 4:05 left in the quarter.
“I just didn’t want to lose,” said Dabbaghian, who scored all 11 of her points and all but two of her team’s points in the third quarter. “I wanted to do whatever it took to bring my team back into the game.”
Dabbagian scored four more points in the quarter to keep it a one-possession game, 31-29, heading to the fourth quarter.
"[The technical foul] came out of the blue, I didn’t really expect it, but it gave us a free throw and an extra possession,” Bencze said. “It certainly was the start of a great run.”