PROVIDENCE HIGH — After trailing St. Bonaventure High the entire first half, it looked as if Providence had made the right adjustments at halftime.
The Pioneers were able to battle back and tie the score in the third quarter Thursday in their CIF Southern Section Division V-AA first-round girls’ basketball playoff game.
Things were definitely looking up for Providence.
But the threat seemed to only motivate the Seraphs, as they shifted to another gear to take control of the game. The Pioneers just couldn’t keep up, and as a result, fell in the postseason game, 66-44, at Providence.
“This was a very good, very athletic team,” Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said of St. Bonaventure. “They really have good basketball fundamentals…we just couldn’t keep up.”
The Pioneers (20-7) — who won a share of the Liberty League championship — had trouble with rebounding against the taller Seraphs (8-17). In the fourth quarter alone, Providence was outrebounded, 16-2.
Doing damage on the boards were St. Bonaventure’s McKenna Hill, who had 19, and Madison McDonnell, who had 15. McDonnell also had a game-high 26 points, 17 coming in the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers received solid scoring performances from Rita Khatchadourian, who had a team-high 15 points — including three three-pointers — to go along with seven steals, and Bea Benedicto, who had 11 points. Teammate Kim Quijano added seven steals.
Providence fell behind, 19-13, after the first quarter, as a number of their shots rattled around the rim and kicked out.
“We had some good looks in the first half,” Bencze said. “I can’t be mad if we have the open looks, we take the shots and they just don’t fall.”
The teams played to a stalemate in the second half, as St. Bonaventure went into halftime maintaining a six-point cushion.
The Pioneers came out for the third quarter revved up. Right off the bat, Providence took control of the game. The team rattled off six-straight points, and when Rita Khatchadourian scored on a driving lay-up with 6:21 remaining, the hosts had knotted the score at 29.
However, the Seraphs responded by going on a 15-3 run the remainder of the quarter to take a 44-32 advantage into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Pioneers tried to counter the onslaught, but just had no answer for McDonnell, who tallied 17 of her team’s 22 points in the stanza.
“We definitely didn’t play one of our best games of the year,” Bencze said. “But they did a good job at rebounding. All of my scouting reports said they were a good rebounding team, especially with offensive rebounds.”