BURBANK — Christian Ware-Berry and Jonathan Ly are prime examples of what Providence High boys’ basketball Coach Ernest Baskerville hopes to do this season with his Pioneers. That is, pressure defense and transition offense.
The juniors-to-be played both sides of the court particularly well on Saturday, forcing turnovers and getting out on fast breaks. And the duo combined to do that to the tune of 29 points and seven steals en route to a 62-28 victory against Reedley of Fresno in pool play of the Providence Summer Tournament.
Ware-Berry led the way with 16 points and four steals and Ly added 13 and three, as the Pioneers advanced to the semifinals on Sunday.
In the opening contest of the tournament on Saturday morning, the Pioneers defeated Dorsey, 50-47, despite nearly squandering a 20-point lead. In the second game of the doubleheader, however, Providence came out strong.
Ly scored eight quick points as the Pioneers raced out to a 17-7 advantage. He drilled a pair of three-pointers from the top of the arc, and then picked off a steal that he cashed in for a layup. Ware-Berry did the same moments later, coming away with a steal and then taking it for a double-clutch layup to make it 19-7.
“We were very intense on the defensive end and it caused them to make a lot of turnovers and we scored easy buckets,” Ware-Berry said.
“We’re just using speed to our advantage. Our goal on offense is, once we get the ball, push it. Keep pushing. Attack and get to the free-throw line.”
The tandem blanketed Ridley’s point guard at midcourt as the first half was winding down, with Ware-Berry forcing the turnover and Ly coming away with the ball. Ware-Berry then drew a foul and sank a pair of foul shots as the first half expired, taking a 36-16 lead.
“That’s how we feed our energy,” Ly said. “We feed off turnovers and convert those into layups.”
With Marcus LoVett Jr., the All-Area Player of the Year, in South Carolina for a tournament, Ware-Berry was the featured player on offense.
He scored in an array of ways: backdoor passes, up-and-under scoop shots and taking the ball the length of the court for layups. He also distributed well: finding players underneath the basket in the half-court set and hitting his targets on the break. He finished with four assists.
“We’re just getting the ball up the floor quick,” Baskerville said.
“They’re either getting the ball to someone ahead or they’re the ones trying to get up for easy layups.”
With Ware-Berry and Ly as the only starters from last season playing in Saturday’s tournament, others had an opportunity to shine, including Kyle Lipton, a transfer student from Santa Monica, who buried three three-pointers and netted 15 points.
D.J. Cabrera, who transferred from Eagle Rock, also had a nice sequence midway through the second half, when he blocked shots on consecutive positions to preserve the Pioneers’ 30-point lead, 53-23, with 11:46 to play.
“I thought our effort was great,” Baskerville said. “Everybody played hard. And that’s one of the things we pride ourselves on: if you don’t play hard, you don’t play. And it shows in our game. I think our effort in the beginning was so extreme, it was hard for them [Ridley] to deal with it.”