Providence boys’ basketball duo shares top league honor
Throughout the season, the Providence High boys’ basketball team could rely on its powerful duo to take charge.
Seniors Bryce Whitaker and A’Jahni Levias were ready to handle all tasks in front of them on both sides of the court, helping the Pioneers dominate in the regular season and enjoy success in the postseason.
Whitaker and Levias teamed up to power the Pioneers to a second straight Prep League championship and assisted on the team’s deep runs in the CIF Southern Section and state playoffs.
For their efforts, Whitaker and Levias have been named the league’s co-most valuable players.
“Both of those guys continued to put in the work to get better,” Providence coach Brandon Lincoln said. “What they were able to accomplish this year was special and they deserve it.”
Providence finished 28-8, 10-0 in league and has not lost a league contest since joining the Prep League for the 2018-19 campaign.
Providence earned the No. 1 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs and advanced to the semifinals. As the No. 11 seed in the CIF State Division III playoffs, Providence lost to No. 5 Arroyo Grande in the Southern California Regional title game.
Whitaker and Levias helped set the tone for the Pioneers and were named to the league’s first team as well.
Whitaker, a guard, averaged 9.6 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steal per games. He finished with 1,133 career points with the Pioneers.
“Everybody on our team trusted Bryce with the ball,” Lincoln said. “He led us in assists for the second straight year and he logged a lot of minutes.”
Levias averaged 15.5 points, seven rebounds and two assists per contest as a forward and provided a strong presence for the Pioneers around the basket. He finished with 1,034 career points.
“He was the leader on the court for our team,” Lincoln said. “What I liked the most was that A’Jahni’s confidence continued to grow throughout the season and he could dominate at both ends.”
Also named to the first team from Providence was senior guard/forward Jordan Shelley. Shelley contributed 14 points, three rebounds and two assists per game and registered 1,392 career points.
“With Jordan, he brought that speed and athleticism to the team that we needed, especially when we played against some of the top programs on our schedule,” Lincoln said. “He was a very tough matchup for the guards we faced.”
Senior guard Andrew Dabbaghian earned all-league second-team accolades. Dabbaghian averaged 8.2 points, 2,7 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest.
“Andrew brought a lot of heart to the team and stabilized us,” Lincoln said. “He was a do-it-all guy and he gave us some toughness on defense.”
In the Division III-AA playoffs, Providence defeated Tustin, Portola and La Sierra before losing to Riverside Hillcrest. The Pioneers turned aside No. 6 San Marcos, No. 3 Oceanside El Camino and No. 15 Fountain Valley before succumbing to Arroyo Grande in the state tournament.
Providence became the first local boys’ team to reach the regional final and first to advance to the title contest since the Bellarmine-Jefferson girls’ basketball team accomplished the feat in 2017.