Girls' basketball group honored with All-CIF awards

Bea Benedicto and Katie Dabbaghian were two players with distinctively different styles this season for the Providence High girls' basketball team.

For Benedicto, a senior forward, she was a physical, grinding presence, posting up and getting the majority of her points under the basket. In contrast, Dabbaghian, a sophomore guard, was the court general for the Pioneers, as her slashing style and quickness posed problems for opponents.

Despite their differences, both Benedicto and Dabbaghian enjoyed their share of success during the 2012-13 season. The two also have something else in common, as they earned All-CIF Southern Section honors, which were released Monday.

While Benedicto was a first-team choice in Division V-AA, Dabbaghian made the second team. It is the second straight season the pair has garnered All-CIF accolades.

Also joining the two Pioneers were Burroughs senior Aysia Shellmire, who was a second-team pick in Division I-A, and Burbank resident Samantha Pyros, a senior at Village Christian who made the Division V-AA first team.

Benedicto was a four-year standout for the Pioneers. This past season she was voted the Liberty League Player of the year after sharing the honor as a junior. In addition, Benedicto leaves the Providence program after helping the team capture four straight league championships.

"I know we had a very tough schedule this season and that gave us the opportunity to play against some very tough teams," Benedicto said. "I think that helped me be a better player. Overall, it was just a great season for the team.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a good season. But our coaches really helped me out and they helped take some of the pressure off of me."

With Benedicto doing most of her damage in the paint, she averaged a team-high 9.9 points a game to go along with 5.6 rebounds. She also averaged 1.1 steals a game.

"Once you challenge her and tell her that if she plays well that we're probably going to do well, she accepts that challenge," Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. "And she took that responsibility very seriously. And when she didn't have a good game she felt terrible about it.

"But she worked really hard this season and she put in the extra work to get better. She even would have an extra conditioning workout after our regular practice. That's how dedicated she was."

Dabbaghian was perhaps the Pioneers' best all-around player. Along with averaging 7.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, she also tallied 3.7 steals, 3.2 assists and nearly a block a game.

"Katia made a big impact last year when she came in as a freshman and she continued to have success as a sophomore," Bencze said. "But she hasn't even scratched the surface of what she can be. She is just so athletic and she loves basketball so much, I think next year you are going to see her just get that much better as a player."

Although she has been honored with All-CIF awards her first two years with the Pioneers, Dabbaghian said the honor isn't something she expects.

"I definitely didn't expect it to happen this year, even though I won it last year," Dabbaghian said. "It's just something that I hoped to happen with all the hard work I put in. It's definitely an honor."

Behind the two standouts, Providence (20-11) defeated Buckley, 59-54, to win the Liberty League Tournament and secure its fourth-straight championship.

Along with winning their fourth straight league title, the No. 2-seeded Pioneers did well in the Division V-AA playoffs, defeating Downey Calvary Chapel, 48-20, Linfield Christian, 69-44, and Bishop, 62-43, to advance to the semifinals. However, Providence wasn't able to advance to the program's first championship game after losing to Village Christian, 46-45.

In the CIF State Basketball Championships, Providence won its first-round game against Tri-County Christian, 42-29, before falling to No. 2 Sierra Canyon, 78-30.

Shellmire, who shared the Pacific League Player of the Year honor, led Burroughs to a 23-5 record and a share of the league championship.

Unfortunately for the Indians, they couldn't carry over that success into the playoffs, as they fell in a CIF Southern Section Division I-A first-round contest to Fountain Valley, 61-57.

Shellmire did a workmanlike job for the Indians all season, as her 16.9 points per game were a team high. In addition, she averaged eight rebounds, 3.7 blocks and two steals a game.

"It's a great accomplishment for her," Burroughs Coach Vicky Oganyan said. "We talked about the awards before the season and everything was kind of out there for her to get. She really worked hard, led the way and good things happened to her."

Pyros averaged 17.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals for Village Christian (19-15), which advanced to the division championship game and qualified for the state tournament.

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