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Providence boys' basketball catapults into playoffs with rout

BURBANK — A convincing victory commenced the postseason for the Providence High boys’ basketball team, one of many the squad is hoping to enjoy in its playoff run.

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The top-seeded Pioneers hosted Foothill Technology in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IV-A playoffs, and were clearly superior in an 84-45 win Friday.

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A Providence game plan that aided in an undefeated run through the Prep League before earning the No. 1 seed, proved successful again as it overwhelmed its opponent from Ventura.

“We have a style of play that has allowed us to play well,” Pioneers Coach Brandon Lincoln said. “We did the things we needed to succeed and have given us success all season. We’ll continue doing so to extend our season.”

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Lincoln’s squad will take to the road for its second round matchup on Tuesday and will face Pomona, which defeated Arlington, 61-51, on Friday.

Providence executed on both ends on Friday, as an efficient offense led to high-percentage shots and balanced scoring, led by Jordan Shelley’s 27 points. A’Jahni Levias added 14 points with Jonas Holt recording 13.

Defensively, the Pioneers (23-6) overwhelmed the Dragons (12-12; No. 3 from the Tri-Valley League), who never led.

“We’re just focused on ourselves,” Shelley said. “Coaches told us to show up, play together, with confidence, and we’ll be alright.”

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Shelley scored the first five points for Providence and eight of the first 10, including a three-pointer after blocking a three-point attempt near the opposite baseline.

Back-to-back threes from Holt and Shelley gave Providence a 16-4 lead and prompted a Foothill Tech timeout.

Shelley’s long ball was set up by Bryce Whitaker (seven points), who did a solid job running the offense while setting the tone on defense, even crashing the boards to keep possessions alive.

Whitaker snagged a rebound and started a break to find Levias for a layup early in the second quarter to increase the lead to 33-10. He then stole the ball on the next possession, leading to another Levias basket at the 4:42 mark.

Providence led 49-19 at the half, thanks in part to 21-of-40 shooting.

Holt, Shelley, and Whitaker connected on three of the team’s seven three-pointers to start the third, putting the game out of reach with a 37-point lead.

Lincoln was able to give all his players a feel for playoff basketball, while resting his starters in a game that had a running clock in the fourth quarter.

“We need to continue to defend at a high level and continue shooting the ball well,” he said. “It’s going to get tougher and tougher. I told the guys that there’s only one game that matters.”

And about Tuesday’s second-round game?

“I think I have a good practice plan set,” Lincoln said. “Hopefully we’ll play well and keep advancing.”

Shelley echoed Lincoln’s sentiment.

“We’re enthusiastic,” he said. “We want to win this thing. Everyone is motivated, especially for the seniors. We want to give them rings.”

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