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Providence boys' basketball's magical season halted in regional semifinals

Providence boys' basketball's magical season halted in regional semifinals
Providence High's Jonas Holt reacts after the Pioneers lost to Silverado in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division IV semifinals. (Miguel Vasconcellos)

BURBANK — The Providence High boys’ basketball team enjoyed a deep run in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division IV playoffs.

That success led the Pioneers to the regional semifinals Saturday.

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Unfortunately, the finest season in program history concluded against Silverado, as the host Pioneers were flummoxed by the visitors’ defense in absorbing a 50-41 loss.

“I saw a real tough defensive team [in Silverado] that made us play outside of our comfort zone,” Providence coach Brandon Lincoln said. “I saw us kind of not respond to the moment.”

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Silverado (29-6), the No. 3 seed, held No. 2 Providence (28-8) to its lowest point total of the season. Saturday’s result was four points less than the previous mark set in the Pioneers in a loss in the CIF Southern Section Division IV-A title game to Ribet Academy, 56-45.

“If we play really good defensively, I feel we can play with anyone,” Silverado coach Michael Record said. “And [my] guys are unselfish and they buy into it. They work hard on defense. They play team defense.”

Providence was limited to single digits in each of the first three quarters. The hosts tallied eight in the first quarter and nine in both the second and third. This was due to a combination of tough, relentless defense by the Hawks, along with cold shooting by the Pioneers.

“Providence is a great team [with a] great coaching staff and great players. They played really hard,” Record said. “We just had to really concentrate of their [offensive] sets. They are a really good offensive team and they run their sets well. They are well disciplined. We just did the best we can [on defense] and we did a pretty good job.”

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The leading scorer on the night for Providence was Kahlil Washington. The senior had 13 points, including six of his team’s nine points in the third quarter.

“We really just didn’t want to lose. We wanted to come out and lock in but, obviously, they got the best of us in the end result,” Washington said. “We tried our hardest and that is all we can ask for.”

Jordan Shelley joined Washington in double figures in scoring with 10 points, while A’Jahni Levias added eight points. Jonas Holt, in his last game as a Pioneer, had six and junior Bryce Whitaker rounded out the scoring with four.

The Pioneers trailed, 39-28, with 6:28 to go in the game after a three-point play by Hawks Jalen Hartwill. Immediately following, Holt drained the Pioneers’ first three-pointer of the evening. Providence then stole the ball back, which led to a one-hand jam by Shelley.

Following a Hawks layup, Providence got the next two buckets on layups by Washington and Levias to cut the deficit to four. That would be as close as the Pioneers would get.

The Hawks followed with a put-back off an air-balled three-point attempt. Then, after the Pioneers came up short on a three-point attempt, Hawks Marquael Wright hit the proverbial dagger by dropping in a three-pointer from the corner to reestablish control of the contest.

“We made a run late, but we should have made that run a lot sooner to give ourselves an opportunity to put them back on their heels,” Lincoln said.

Silverado, which reached state competition by way of a semifinal loss in the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA playoffs, was paced in scoring by Wright and Hartwill, who had 14 points each.

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In the first quarter, both teams came out cold from the floor and hot on the defensive end. At the 4:07 mark, Washington sank two free throws for a 6-5 advantage. It was the only lead the Pioneers would enjoy.

The score at the end of the first was 13-8 in favor of Silverado.

In the second quarter, the Hawks gained some separation, outscoring the Pioneers, 12-8. Wright had five in the quarter and Silverado’s largest lead was nine.

Silverado went into halftime with a 25-17 advantage.

In the third quarter, Silverado’s lead ballooned to 14 points before Providence scored the final six points. The teams ended up splitting the quarter with each scoring nine points. The score was 34-26 heading into the fourth where Providence’s comeback attempt came up short.

“I think we exceeded any expectations we might have had,” Lincoln said. “Our message to [my] guys is to be sure not to let this be your last moment. This should be part of our expectations to play to this level and make something like this happen again.”

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