PROVIDENCE HIGH — Carey Many isn’t a fortuneteller.
He just had a inkling.
The boys’ basketball coach at Providence High said if his team failed to execute in one specific area, they’d be in for a long game Saturday night against visiting Buckley.
“If you looked out there and you looked at the two teams, they were taller and more athletic from the eye-ball test,” Many said. “I knew we were in for a tough night if we weren’t able to make very many shots.”
Turns out his premonition was correct.
Providence struggled to score from the beginning. Buckley didn’t, and as a result, was able to win the Liberty League game, 83-65.
Patrick Gonzalez, a scoring guard for Providence, has put up spectacular numbers this season. He entered Saturday night’s game averaging more than 37 points a game, and has scored 40 points or more in six games. Gonzalez netted 52 points in a climatic 104-102 loss against Northridge Academy last month.
But against Buckley, who employed a two-three half-court zone defense, things were different.
Gonzalez took eight shots in the first quarter and made only two. He scored a game-high 28 points, but took 26 shots to do so. He went five of 16 from three-point distance.
“He had a lot of open looks,” Many said. “They might have been five feet beyond the three-point line, but they were open. He’s made a hundred of those throughout the year, so I know he can make that.”
“It wasn’t falling this game,” Gonzalez said while appling a bloodied gauze to his mouth after taking an inadvertent elbow in the fourth quarter. He also contributed 13 rebounds and three steals in the effort.
Like his coach, Gonzalez had specific intuitions about going up against Buckley (9-4, 3-1 in league).
“I kind of knew this was going to happen,” he said. “They were going to start triple-teaming and double-teaming me.”
Providence (9-8, 2-3) tried to impose its will with a full-court zone press defense throughout the game. The Griffins had little trouble breaking it, and found easy paths to the basket.
“When you have someone 5-8 trapping someone who’s 6-2, it’s like smoke and mirrors,” Many said. “It’s not really a trap. The reason we run this is we’re tiny. The problem is it doesn’t work very well because people can see over your trap.”
In the half court, Buckley successfully used dribble-drive penetration against the Pioneers’ man-to-man defense.
Nick de Bonfilhs led Buckley with 25 points. Tyler Coppin Carter contributed 24 points. Both players, consistently, scored their share of points down low.
“We didn’t box out as good as we should’ve, and they were just more athletic,” Gonzalez said.
Buckley led Providence, 23-17, at the end of the first quarter.
Gonzalez scored eight points in the second quarter and hit consecutive three-pointers, which tied the score at 28. But the Griffins ended the first half on a 16-1 run, which gave them a comfortable 44-29 lead at intermission.
“The first half, it was more of us not being able to make a shot,” Many said. “They were pretty open shots. We were just missing them.”
In the final minute of the third quarter, Gonzalez connected on a trey from the left corner, cutting the deficit to 61-52. Buckley immediately answered with a lay-up by Larry Bush just as the quarter ended, putting the visitors up, 63-52.
The Griffins outscored the Pioneers, 20-13, in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, it was more of an up-and-down game,” Many said. “We were giving up way too many lay-ups. We kind of got a little discouraged.”
Tyler Kidd scored 17 points for Providence.