Baskerville leaves Providence boys' basketball for La Salle

Just two seasons ago, the Providence High boys' basketball program had an energetic new coach in Ernest Baskerville and a freshman sensation in player Marcus LoVett Jr.

The two helped the Pioneers make history during the 2011-12 campaign. Providence won its first league championship in more than a decade, advanced to the program's first-ever CIF Southern Section championship game — only the second appearance in any sport in school history — and qualified for the state playoffs for the first time.

All that helped to put Providence on the boys' basketball map.

But LoVett left the team during his sophomore season last year and eventually transferred out of Providence. Now the Pioneers have lost the other piece of their championship puzzle, as Baskerville confirmed that it became official Wednesday morning that he accepted the position as boys' basketball coach at La Salle in Pasadena.

"When you look at it, Ernest got us to a CIF final and his teams made the playoffs the two years he was here with us," Providence Athletic Director Andrew Bencze said. "He definitely brought some success here and he kind of put us out there in a different way than we've been in the past as a program.

"That's the reason why we hired him, to give the program a shot in the arm, and that's exactly what he did."

Baskerville, a Pasadena resident, who had a 36-23 record in his two years at Providence, said one of the main reasons he accepted the position at La Salle was to be closer to home.

"This is a good opportunity for me and living in the Pasadena area, it's also good for my family," Baskerville said. "I'm going to be able to spend more time at home and more time with the family. That's something that is very important to me."

He also stressed that although he looks forward to the opportunity that lies in front of him at La Salle, he also had mixed feelings about leaving Providence.

"I'm really going to miss Providence," Baskerville said. "I really believe in the values and the foundation and what it does for the students, and not just the athletes. They value education and I enjoyed my time there.

"But you know Providence and La Salle are so similar. Both are Catholic schools, both are college preparatory schools, both have a great academic foundation and both have parents who care about academics. And you throw in athletics and both really care about their sports."

Baskerville leaves the Providence program after a 2012-13 season in which the team had its struggles. The Pioneers (10-17) placed third in the Liberty League Tournament and qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs as an at-large team. The team suffered a 72-66 loss in the first round to Lancaster Desert Christian.

During the season, LoVett, an All-State player and All-Area Player of the Year in 2012, was sidelined with an illness. LoVett left the squad for good before the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign and transferred out of the school.

LoVett has reportedly enrolled at San Gabriel Academy after he was supposed to be attending Orangewood Academy in Garden Grove.

The Providence program also lost its best returning player when senior Christian Ware-Berry transferred to West Ranch during the summer. Last season, picking up the slack with the departure of LoVett, Ware-Berry earned All-CIF honors after averaging 22.2 points a game to go along with 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals a game.

During Baskerville's first season at the helm in 2011-12, the Pioneers enjoyed a wildly successful campaign. Behind LoVett, Providence (26-6) captured its first Liberty League championship in 12 years.

In addition, the Pioneers 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.

"We were able to do some good things in the program the last two years," Baskerville said. "I am proud of what we were able to accomplish."

Baskerville already enjoyed success as a coach before he came to Providence. Along with spending the previous season as an assistant coach for the College of the Canyons men's team, he built a successful winning program at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies in West L.A. He coached the team to four league championships from 1997-2009 and had a record of 178-168.

During the 2008-09 season, LACES captured the L.A. City Small Schools Championship.

Baskerville takes over a La Salle program that has had three coaches in three seasons. Jelani Gardner left after piloting the Lancers for one season and Steve Goldstein departed following the 2011-12 season after leading program for 22 years.

Last season, the Lancers went 13-10 and 3-4 in the Del Rey League for third place. La Salle fell in the first round of the Division IV-AA playoffs to St. Genevieve, 75-60.

The squad has a talented returning player in junior Vance Jackson, who has been getting his share of attention from major colleges.

"When you get a guy who's got extensive experience as a head coach and someone who understands Catholic college prep academics, and knowing what is required by student-athletes in that environment, I think you get the best of both worlds," La Salle Athletic Director Anthony Harris said. "I think we got that with Ernest Baskerville."

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