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Pioneers stay in first

PROVIDENCE HIGH — Coming off of a lopsided loss three days earlier, the Providence High girls’ basketball team hoped to show some resiliency by bouncing back Tuesday evening.

But to do so, the Pioneers would have to handle a Viewpoint squad with a distinct height advantage. Whereas the Patriots have three players who are 6-foot or taller, the Pioneers have no athletes who even approach that size, with the tallest starter measuring just 5-7.

To neutralize the height disadvantage, Providence used its quickness, defense and an early lead to roll to a 56-31 Liberty League victory at Providence.

The win keeps the Pioneers (17-3, 5-0 in league) — ranked No. 3 in CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA — in first place in the Liberty League with five games remaining.


Although Providence shared the league championship with Holy Martyrs last season, Coach Andrew Bencze said his team is not thinking co-title this year.

“Sharing is for kindergartners and we’re a high school team — we’re not into sharing,” said Bencze, whose team was soundly beaten by St. Lucy’s, 55-27, Saturday in the War on the Floor Extravaganza at Taft High. “The goal this year is to win the championship outright, and we think that we have the talent to do that.”

It was the Providence defense that set the tone early against the Patriots (7-9, 1-3). The Pioneers hounded the Viewpoint ballcarriers and kept the team from mounting any offensive runs.

Fueled by forcing 10 first-quarter turnovers, the Pioneers went on to tally 34 in the game.


“We really work on defense the most,” Providence junior Janel Adraneda said. “If you have a good defense it really helps your offense, and that’s where we get a lot of our points.”

Adraneda paced the Pioneers on offense, tallying a game-high 12 points. Catherine Saint added nine points and Bea Benedicto had eight. Leading the defensive charge was freshman Katia Debbaghian, who had seven steals to go along with seven points and eight rebounds.

The tight defensive pressure helped Providence jump to a 15-2 lead after the first quarter.

Despite its length, Viewpoint had trouble pounding the ball inside to its taller players.

“Against taller teams, we just need to use our advantage,” Bencze said. “Our defense, and I think our quickness, helps us be able to play well even if a team is taller than we are.”

The Patriots did receive 11 rebounds and four blocks from one of their big post players, Sara Shevin. However, she was only able to score six points.

The Pioneers continued to dominate the game after the first quarter, jumping to a 30-13 advantage at the half and heading into the fourth quarter with a 46-20 lead.

Bencze cleared his bench in the fourth quarter.


“It’s good for us to come off a loss like we had Saturday with a game like this,” Bencze said. “This team continues to improve and I’m hoping that is going to continue.”

The Pioneers will return to action with a tough league game against host Holy Martyrs at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Providence shared last year’s title with the Armens.