Providence girls' basketball returns to tourney title game

BURBANK — One of the goals during the season for the members of the Providence High girls' basketball team is to win their own tournament.

The Pioneers have reached the tournament's championship game the previous three seasons, losing all three appearances.

Thanks to a nice effort from junior guard Deanna Nazarian, the Pioneers will have another opportunity to win the tournament's title.

Nazarian finished with a game-high 12 points on Friday night to help Providence to a 41-35 victory against St. Genevieve in a semifinal contest of the 17th annual Pioneer Shootout.

Providence (3-1) will meet Flintridge Prep (6-0) in the tournament's title contest at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Earlier Friday, Flintridge Prep posted a 58-47 semifinal victory against San Gabriel.

"It's great to be back [in the championship game]," said Nazarian, who had nine first-half points to give Providence a 27-16 halftime advantage. "We know we will have to be ready to play and not be intimidated."

Providence, which captured the Liberty League championship before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA semifinals and a trip to the CIF State Division V playoffs last season under coach Andrew Bencze, took a 37-27 lead on a three-pointer by Nazarian with 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.

St. Genevieve (7-1) made one final comeback bid, cutting the deficit to 41-35 with 43.5 seconds left.

"We live off of our offense because we are mainly a team of guards," said Bencze, who team fell to Louisville in the tournament's finale last season. "We are still working on some things.

"We have had a good rivalry of late with St. Genevieve. They did a good job of frustrating us because they were able to get after our guards. At the same time, they had trouble with our defense."

Nazarian said she expected the Valiants to make one final late charge.

"They have a good team," Nazarian said. "When they did make that run, we knew we had to stay calm and just focus on our defense."

Providence, which opened the tournament with pool-play victories against Heritage Christian and Mayfield, received eight points from junior forward Olivia Menke and seven from sophomore Fabi Jimenez. Providence sophomore guard Rachel Camonayan scored on a layup with three seconds left in the first half to give the Pioneers a 27-16 lead.

Jimenez made a three-pointer to give the Pioneers a 6-0 lead just a minute into the game. Providence guard/forward Kristie Kawamoto, a senior, connected on a three-pointer to give Providence a 16-10 advantage with 1:16 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Pioneers will make their seventh appearance in the tournament's championship game since the event's inception in 1997. Providence won the tournament in 1997 and 1999 and reached the title contest in 1998, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Bencze said Flintridge Prep, which also reached the Division V-AA semifinals and qualified for the state tournament last season, will present a stiff test for Providence.

"They have a very good team," Bencze said. "They play solid defense and I was impressed with the way they played San Gabriel.

"They are young and talented. We will have the homecourt advantage and will have to play smart defense."

Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World