PROVIDENCE HIGH — The Providence boys’ basketball team is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is a Liberty League championship.
Led by freshman phenom Marcus LoVett Jr. and a stifling defense, the Pioneers cruised to an 85-52 home victory againstYeshiva on Monday.
Providence, which is in first place in league, is seeking its first league championship since 1999.
The Pioneers (20-4, 7-0 in league) outscored the Panthers (16-3, 3-3), 26-6, in the final quarter, when Coach Ernest Baskerville decided to increase his team’s defensive intensity. The coach was impressed with his team’s overall performance.
“We’re playing well and things are starting to click,” said Baskerville, whose team improved its record to 6-1 at home. “We just got to continue to play hard.”
The Pioneers — ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division V-A — are playing well in every facet of the game, but Baskerville recognizes the defense as the main reason for their success.
“I think it was our pressure defense that I was happy with,” Baskerville said. “We can score with anybody; but I think the important thing is getting stops and we were able to do that tonight.”
Scoring is something LoVett had no problem doing, as the Pioneers guard led all players with a game-high 35 points. But LoVett talked about the team’s all-around performance.
“We’re really clicking right now,” LoVett said. “Passing the ball, rebounding, defense; coach has us working on all of that in practice.”
Senior guard Patrick Gonzalez also had a solid night on offense, adding 24 points of his own for the Pioneers. His hot start shooting helped Providence build an early lead.
Gonzalez had his own thoughts as to why his team was able to pull away in the game’s final quarter.
“We got to have a killer instinct,” said Gonzalez, who was last year’s leading scorer in the state. “When we see a team down we have to increase the lead so they don’t have a chance to come back.”
The only player who could do any kind of scoring for the Panthers was senior Jack Gindi, who had an impressive 28 points for Yeshiva.
“We couldn’t stop Jack tonight,” Baskerville said. “But if he’s scoring points and everyone else is missing, I’ll take that.”
The Pioneers have three games remaining on their league schedule, with the final game to be played Feb. 9 against Buckley.