This is the fourth in a four-part series looking back on the sports accomplishments of the four local high schools during the 2011-12 year. This installment is Providence High:
Basketball reigned supreme at Providence High during the 2011-12 campaign. The Pioneers boys’ and girls’ teams had similar success, as they both captured Liberty League championships, enjoyed deep runs in the CIF Southern Section playoffs and qualified for the state tournament.
Under Coach Andrew Bencze, the girls’ squad (27-6) rolled to an undisputed Liberty League championship; the third in a row for the program. However, senior standout Catherine Saint injured an ankle in the final regular season game and missed much of the playoffs.
Undaunted, the No. 3 Pioneers went on to the Division V-AA semifinals for the first time in program history, losing to No. 1 Villanova Prep, 48-35. Providence received an invitation to state play and defeated Rock Academy, 68-35, and Orangewood Academy, 44-34, to advance to the regional semifinals. In the game, Providence saw its season come to an end with a 64-28 loss to Mission Prep.
Leading the historic run was a trio of players: Saint, junior Bea Benedicto and freshman Katia Dabbaghian. All three earned All-CIF Southern Section accolades in Division V-AA, as Saint was a first-team selection and Benedicto and Dabbaghian were second-team picks.
Benedicto was also awarded by being named the Liberty League co-Player of the Year.
While Benedicto averaged 11.7 points and 5.6 rebounds a contest, Dabbaghian averaged 7.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.6 steals and three assists and Saint averaged 9.8 points and 2.9 steals.
On the boys’ side, star freshman Marcus LoVett Jr. paced the Pioneers under first-year Coach Earnest Baskerville. Along with winning their first league crown in 12 years, the Pioneers also enjoyed a historic postseason run, advancing past the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
Unfortunately for Providence, its first-ever appearance in a CIF championship game ended with a 65-62 Division IV-A overtime loss to league foe Holy Martyrs.
Providence also advanced to state competition for the first time, losing to Mission Prep, 68-62, in the opening round of the Southern California Regionals of the CIF State Division IV Championships.
LoVett averaged 31.7 points a game, which was best in the nation among freshmen according to MaxPreps.com. In addition, he poured in 1,035 points last season — breaking a school record — and put up 35.8 points a game in the playoffs.
He was named the Liberty League Player of the Year, the Division IV-A Player of the Year and 2012 All-Area Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year. In addition, LoVett made the MaxPreps.com Freshman All-American Team and earned Division V All-State first-team honors by MaxPreps.com.
In the fall season, the Providence girls’ volleyball team made the postseason. The Pioneers (8-11), who placed third in the Liberty League, had two all-league selections in junior setter Janel Adraneda and senior outside hitter Thalia Alvarez.
In the spring season, the school’s baseball team enjoyed a remarkable turnaround after dropping out of the Liberty League for the 2012 season. Under the direction of Coach Steven Knez, Providence was one of the top two teams in the Freelance Division.
The Pioneers ended the season with a 9-4 record, the most wins by the program in a decade. That was a substantial improvement from a 2011 season that saw Providence go 0-12.
Also in the spring, the¿ softball team stayed in the hunt for a league championship until the final game of the regular¿ season. The Pioneers (8-10-1) lost that final game, to Viewpoint, 9-1, but still finished second in¿ league.
Three players earned All-Liberty League honors: senior infielder Jackie Brewer, senior utility player Gian-Mari Llaguno and senior pitcher Caitie Guttry.
Brewer was a potent hitter for the Pioneers. Along with a .419 average (26 for 62), she also drove in 40 runs, scored 30 runs, had five home runs and two triples. In addition, Brewer had a .726 slugging percentage and a .479 on-base percentage.
Llaguno paced the team with a .455 average (25 for 55) and also tallied 22 RBI, scored 23 runs, had a .483 OBP and struck out just three times.
Guttry, who battled back from an injury, hit .381 (16 for 42) and had 15 RBI. In the circle, she was 6-6 with a 1.72 earned-run average and 89 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.
The boys’ volleyball team was also in the running for a share of the Liberty League crown until the final regular-season game. Despite losing to champion ¿Viewpoint, 25-20, 25-13, 25-20, the Pioneers finished as runner-up.