Providence defense frustrates Holy Family

PROVIDENCE HIGH — The Holy Family girls' basketball team ran into a torrent in the form of the Providence defense Monday in an opening-round, pool-play game of the 16th annual Providence Pioneer Shootout.

The Pioneers used an oppressive full-court pressure to completely frustrate the Gaels in the opening quarter. Holy Family didn't help its cause either by suffering from poor shooing in the first half.

Providence used the early defensive success to jump out to a big lead in the opening frame, as the Gaels weren't able to chip away at the advantage and the Pioneers rolled to a 51-16 victory in their own tournament.

The Pioneers (1-1) came into the game motivated after losing their season opener Nov. 27 to Canoga Park Armenian General Benevolent Union, 42-36.

"Coming off a game, and a loss, where the main problem was effort, consistency and defense, we worked really hard on those things in practice to be ready for this game," Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. "I was very pleased with the way we played defense today. The girls realized the coaches weren't happy with the effort last week, and more importantly they weren't happy with the effort as well."

In the game, Providence forced 29 turnovers. Applying the full-court pressure in the first quarter, Holy Family (1-2) had trouble bringing the ball up court and setting up for shots.

Senior guard Nicole Mungus led the defensive barrage for Providence, forcing eight turnovers — five in the first quarter.

"Coach really focuses on our defense, and we know if we have good defense our offense will flow," Mungus said. "We like to play tough defense."

The Pioneers only put on the sustained pressure for the first quarter, and it paid dividends. Providence helped force 11 turnovers in the opening stanza, as it was able to jump out to a 19-2 advantage.

The Gaels didn't score a basket from the field in the first quarter. Instead, their points came on single free throws from Charise Talaro and Kassandra Mountufar.

Although Bencze called off the dogs defensively in the second quarter, the Gaels still turned the ball over eight times. Holy Family was finally able to convert a field goal when Talaro made a layup with 2:28 remaining in the first half. However, three free throws from Talaro (eight points) were the only other points the Gaels could muster.

As a result, Providence outscored its opponent, 20-5, in the second and went into half with a 39-7 lead.

In the first half, the Gaels were one of 18 from the field with 19 turnovers. In the game, Holy Family was four of 32 from the field.

"We know that we're not going to see a team like Providence talent wise in our league," Holy Family Coach Ernest Siy said. "We knew that they were going to be good and that they were going to put a lot of pressure on us. But that just gave us the opportunity to work on some other things."

The Gaels matched the Pioneers in the third quarter, as both squads tallied just four points. However, by that point, Providence headed into the fourth quarter with a 43-11 advantage.

The Pioneers received a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds from senior Bea Benedicto. Teammate Katia Dabbaghian, a sophomore, added eight points and five steals and freshman Fabi Jimenez had eight points, including two three-pointers.

Holy Family plays its second pool-play tournament game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday against Village Christian. Providence will next go against Village Christian at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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