PROVIDENCH HIGH — Providence High just wanted to get back to the business of playing basketball. And the Pioneers did so in historic fashion.
Putting behind it a game four days earlier in which its second-round boys’ contest with New Roads had to be halted in the fourth quarter because of a fight, Providence got back on track Tuesday in a CIF Southern Section Division V-A quarterfinal game against Shalhevet.
Getting a boost from the return of Patrick Gonzalez from a foot injury, the Pioneers staved off at late rally by the Firehawks to earn a 59-54 victory at home.
The win puts the No. 1-seeded Pioneers (24-4) into the semifinals for the first time in school history. Providence will play in the semis at 7 p.m. Friday against either Pacifica Christian or Kilpatrick at a site to be determined.
Providence — the Liberty League champion — took on No. 8 Shalhevet (16-8) — the Mulholland League champion — without the services of sophomore Jonathan Ly, who was serving a one-game suspension for his role in Friday’s fight.
The Pioneers played inconsistent at times against the Firehawks, something Providence Coach Ernest Baskerville attributed to missing the key starter.
“That’s what happens when you don’t have one of your regular guys in there,” Baskerville said. “We missed Jonathan and that showed at times. But give [Shalhevet] credit, their coach had them ready and they came to play.”
Gonzalez, a senior, missed Friday’s game after injuring his foot in the Pioneers’ final regular season game. He definitely provided a spark, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Gonzalez said it was imperative that his team forget about what occurred against New Roads and focus on Tuesday’s game.
“That’s something we wanted to put behind us and move on,” he said. “We didn’t want to think about that any more. I thought we did a good job doing that.”
Providence received another solid performance from freshman sensation Marcus LoVett Jr., who paced the team with 22 points. Teammate Christian Ware-Berry, a sophomore, chipped in with 15 points to go along with seven rebounds.
“Patrick was probably only 80% tonight, but it was nice to have him back,” Baskerville said.
After enjoying an 18-point lead in the second quarter, Providence allowed Shalhevet to keep chipping away at the lead. In a torrid fourth quarter, the Firehawks made it a two-point game, 56-54, when senior Yossi Halpert drained a three-pointer with 1:04 remaining.
The teams traded shots in the final minute, as LoVett was fouled with 10.9 seconds left. LoVett converted both attempts to make it a two-possession game. Pioneer Michael Henoud then sank a free throw with 9.9 seconds remaining.
Although the Pioneers fell behind, 13-12, after one quarter, they began the second on a 19-2 run and ended the stanza by outscoring the Firehawks, 23-8, to take a 35-21 advantage into the half.
Providence was outscored 14-9 in the third quarter and 19-15 in the fourth.