Providence getting noticed

Bits and pieces from the local sports scene.

Pioneers boys' basketball team nets top ranking: In his first season as coach, Ernest Baskerville has Providence heading in the right direction.

Behind talented players Patrick Gonzalez and Marcus Lovette Jr., the Pioneers are establishing themselves as a contender in CIF Southern Section Division IVA. In fact, Providence earned the No. 1 spot in the latest CIF rankings.

Lovette, a freshman, has made an instant impact in his first season with the team. Gonzalez, a senior, set the Providence career scoring mark earlier this season.

Providence was just one of a group of local teams ranked in the latest polls.

In boys' basketball, Burbank is No. 11 in Division IA.

In girls' basketball, Providence holds down the No. 3 spot in Division IVAA, Burbank is No. 5 in Division IA and Bellarmine-Jefferson is No. 7 in IVAA.

O'Connor named athlete of the month: Former Burbank High water polo standout Alex O'Connor was named the Cuesta College Female Athlete of the Month for November at Cuesta College.

This distinct honor recognizes two Cuesta College athletes each month during the school year who have performed to the highest standards in their sport.

A two-year team captain for the women's team, O'Connor played her entire sophomore year with an injury that could have ended her season. She opted to play through the pain and was a dominant force for the Cougars.

Her teammates voted her team co-most valuable player and she was selected to the All-State second team.

O'Connor finished the season ranked among the state's top 15 in three statistical categories. She netted 59 goals, dished out 32 assists and had 61 steals. O'Connor also drew the third-most exclusions in Cuesta history, which set up 44 power-play opportunities for the Cougars.

"Alex is a true leader; she tough and she is a winner," Cuesta Coach Peter Schuler said on the college's website.

O'Connor ended her career among Cuesta's all time best players. She ranks No. 10 all time in career goals (82), No. 9 in steals (117), No. 12 in assists (48) and No. 5 in exclusions drawn (64).

Cuesta finished the regular season with a perfect 4-0 record in the Western State Conference and placed second at the WSC Championships. The Cougars ended the season with a 19-12 record.

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday event at Burbank High: Those who would like to help the less fortunate can do so at an event saluting Martin Luther King Jr. with a project that raises scholarship funds for graduates of Crenshaw High, contributes food to the L.A. Regional Food Bank and solicits blood for the American Red Cross.

Starting Jan. 14, the Friends and Family Doubles Tournament will be held at the Burbank High tennis courts. The competition will be part of an event that offers several opportunities to promote education, health and wellness in the Los Angeles community in honor of King's legacy of service.

Individuals can drop off food donations at the tennis courts. Also, a blood mobile from the American Red Cross will be on site from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 16. The event is also looking for volunteers to introduce kids from the Los Angeles community to tennis.

Avid tennis player, professor of literature and actress, Jeryl Prescott Sales, Jacqui from AMC's Zombie drama "The Walking Dead," is partnering with Sports Explorer to give residents another option for celebrating the community spirit King embodied.

For more information, or to volunteer, visit SportsExplorer.org to learn more about the non-profit brainchild of former pro-tennis player Ronita Elder that seeks to broaden minds through athleticism. Contact Jeryl at jerylp@msn.com if interested in playing in the tournament or donating.

Jeff Tully

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