BURBANK — With Marcus LoVett Jr. roughly 3,000 miles away in South Carolina competing with his travel team, the Providence High boys’ basketball team made a push to win the Providence Tournament on Sunday without its standout point guard who scored 1,035 points and reeled in a plethora of accolades last season.
The Pioneers searched for other players to at least partially fill the gigantic void left by LoVett, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year who has not been with the squad throughout the entire summer session.
The Pioneers’ bid to win the tournament came up short, as it fell, 77-41, to Calabasas in the tournament’s third-place contest Sunday night.
Providence Coach Ernest Baskerville, who guided the Pioneers to the Liberty League championship and an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division V-A championship game last season, said the Pioneers have conducted only six practices during the summer. With more than 30 games played, Baskerville said the Pioneers appeared exhausted playing their fourth tournament game in two days.
“I think we just ran out of gas [against Calabasas],” Baskerville said. “We don’t have Marcus, and we only have three guys — Christian Ware, John Ly and Max Sai — left from last year’s team.
“We put so much into winning this tournament. We came out flat against Calabasas and it hurt us.”
Providence, which earlier Sunday suffered a 60-53 loss against San Pedro in the championship semifinals, never led against Calabasas. The Pioneers could get no closer than 6-4 on a layup by Harrison Pyros with 16:30 left in the first half.
The Coyotes raced to a 37-20 halftime lead. They finished with 14 second-chance points in the second half and limited Providence to six offensive rebounds in the 40-minute game.
“We had some defensive lapses, especially late in the first half,” Baskerville said. “Calabasas hit a bunch of three-pointers.
“I thought we had played well in our last five games leading up to the Calabasas game. We’ve had an up-and-down summer.”
Providence received 11 points apiece from Ware and Kyle Lipton and nine from Ly.
Ware said the Pioneers have spent the summer working on restructuring parts of the team in LoVett’s absence.
“It’s been a great learning experience for the new guys coming in,” Ware said. “They are getting a lot of minutes and working on their all-around skills.
“I thought we did well in the tournament. Playing four games in two days is tough, but everybody has to do it. You have to be able to go out there and execute.”
Providence began the tournament Saturday with a 50-47 win against Dorsey, followed by a 62-28 victory against Reedley.