LA CAÑADA — Talk about a seamless transition.
After previously competing in the Independence League, the Providence High boys’ basketball team made a huge jump this season to the more competitive Prep League that’s mostly been dominated by Flintridge Prep this century.
Looking to be a force in the Prep League, Providence has shown throughout that it can compete with league powers Flintridge Prep and Pasadena Poly, putting it on the cusp of achieving a benchmark moment in the program’s history.
Providence clinched the league championship outright Monday, receiving 15 points from Jordan Shelley and 12 points, eight assists and four steals from Bryce Whitaker to register a 62-54 road win against Flintridge Prep.
“It definitely feels good to come in here and win and we knew that we had to be prepared against a very good team in Flintridge Prep, which has set the standard in this league for a long time,” Providence coach Brandon Lincoln said. “We had to come in and play smart and play possession basketball to give us a shot.
“We came into league thinking we had a shot at winning it. It makes it that much better doing it in our first year.”
Providence (21-6, 7-0 in league) will look to finish unbeaten in league when it meets Rio Hondo Prep on Wednesday. For now, the Pioneers, ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA, plan to savor the league crown. It marked the second league championship won by Providence in the last three seasons.
Flintridge Prep (13-10, 4-2) made Providence earn the victory, cutting the lead to 52-48 with 3:26 remaining in the fourth quarter and 56-52 with 28.7 seconds left.
Shelley made a three-pointer to give the Pioneers a 55-48 lead with 2:44 to go and the Pioneers made four free throws in the final 23.1 seconds to complete the two-game season series sweep of the Rebels, who shared the league title last season and have won 14 since the start of the 2001-02 campaign.
“Flintridge Prep has been a dominant team for a long time and it’s pretty cool to come here and win league,” said Shelley, who contributed seven rebounds and five assists. “I think we came in excited and ready to play.
“Flintridge Prep was on our tail the whole game and we expected them to fight back.”
Providence held a 42-38 lead entering the fourth quarter after building a 30-25 halftime advantage.
Shelley and Whitaker registered six and five points, respectively, in the fourth quarter.
Providence’s biggest lead in the fourth quarter was 47-38 after Collin Ferrell made a three-pointer with 6:19 to play.
Flintridge Prep did its best to trim the deficit.
AJ Nicassio, who finished with 17 points and six assists, made a free throw to cut the lead to 52-48. A basket by Jack Cartwright made it 56-52.
“I thought we were right there in the fourth quarter when we got it down to four points with less than four minutes to go,” Flintridge Prep coach Garrett Ohara said. “We had some opportunities to get closer.
“There’s a very good talent level with both of these teams. We’ll try now to get second place in league and get some momentum going into the playoffs. There’s a new sheriff in the league.”
Jonas Holt recorded 13 points for the Pioneers, who got nine from A’Jahni Levias and seven from Ferrell.
Matthew Ho contributed 14 points for the Rebels, who received nine points and eight rebounds from Zach Kim and eight points from Cartwright.
Flintridge Prep will face visiting Chadwick on Wednesday and travel to rival Pasadena Poly on Thursday.