First-year Providence High boys’ Coach Ernest Baskerville had two main goals for this team this season: Finishing among the top three in the Liberty League and cutting down on the 86 points per game the Pioneers gave up the previous year.
Providence wildly exceeded those expectations, as the squad won its first league championship in 13 years and surrendered 57 points a game.
But the Pioneers did so much more, putting together a historic season that included a first-ever CIF Southern Section championship appearance and an inaugural invitation to the state playoffs.
Providence was justly rewarded for its exploits. Freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. was voted the Division IV-A Player of the Year and senior teammate Patrick Gonzalez garnered a first-team honor. In addition, Baskerville earned co-coach of the year honors with Koko Kaprielian of Holy Martyrs.
“I think us getting awards is great recognition for the school,” Baskerville said. “It also shows how much hard work the guys put in all season. Rewards come with hard work, and this team worked very hard to accomplish what they were able to do this year.
“But I’m really happy that the two guys were recognized for what they put in this season,”
Baskerville was modest about sharing the division’s coach-of-the-year award.
“Me getting the award, that’s just the team,” he said. “When you win it’s because of the players and not always because of the coach. The coaching award is being awarded for the whole body of work, and that’s what the team was able to accomplish. …We had a great season.”
LoVett definitely provided an offensive spark for the Pioneers (26-6). The freshman averaged a team-high 32.4 points a game and ended the season with 1,036 points, breaking a school record. LoVett tallied 20 or more points in all 32 of the Pioneers’ games, had 30 or more in 17 games and 40 or more in six. His high game came with a 52-point effort in a tournament contest Dec. 17 against Santa Maria St. Joseph.
LoVett also averaged nearly five rebounds and more than three assists and three steals a contest.
“Marcus is just a blue-collar worker who goes out there and works every game,” Baskerville said. “Aside from his stats, he has just done an amazing job this season being humble and level-headed about all the attention he’s gotten. He did everything within our offense. I think getting player of the year caps off a great season for him.”
LoVett was also named the Liberty League Player of the Year.
It is the second straight All-CIF honor for Gonzalez, who led the state in points-per-game average (37.8) and three-pointers (six a game) as a junior in 2011. He set the Pioneers’ career scoring record earlier this season.
With the addition of LoVett, Gonzalez had to learn to adapt this season, taking a lesser scoring role. Nevertheless, he averaged more than 20 points and eight rebounds a contest.
“Patrick is only 6-2 and he led our team in rebounds,” Baskerville said. “That shows you how hard he works. As tough as it could have been for him with Marcus coming in, he is just such a coachable kid, and his thing was just helping us win. He did what he had to do to help us win. More than his stats, he wanted to win. He has been just a pleasure to coach.”
Providence enjoyed a historic postseason run in Division IV-A, advancing past the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, their first-ever appearance in a CIF championship game ended with a 65-62 overtime loss to league foe Holy Martyrs.
In the Southern California Regional of the CIF State Division V Championships, No. 13 Providence fell in the first round to No. 4 Mission Prep, 68-62.
Three of the Pioneers’ six losses on the season came against eventual CIF divisional champions.