Pioneers' win boosts confidence

WOODLAND HILLS — There certainly were lessons learned and insights gained by the Providence High boys' basketball team in Saturday afternoon's second day of the War on the Floor Showcase at Los Angeles Pierce College.

The Pioneers played with little practice, even less rest and no superstar in reigning All-Area Player of the Year Marcus LoVett Jr., and yet gained a big helping of confidence after a 51-40 victory over Canoga Park in the final game of pool play.

"During summer, it's just about learning the new system because we have a lot of new guys," Pioneers Coach Ernest Baskerville said. "We basically only have four guys returning to varsity this season and we haven't even practiced much.

"But I like to throw my guys into the fire and have them learn this way. Sure, there are a lot of things to work on, but I liked the effort and that we're improving."

Without LoVett Jr., who was attending a basketball camp, the onus on filling his 31.7 points-per-game average fell on incoming juniors Jonathan Ly and Christian Ware-Berry.

The duo shouldered the burden without qualm, combining to score 33 points.

"The good thing about Marcus not being here is that the younger guys will have some time to get comfortable handling the ball since Marcus is our point guard and the main ball-handler," said Ware-Berry, who added two steals. "When they touch the ball, they won't hesitate."

Providence led by as many as 11 points in the second half, but was forced to weather two storms from Canoga Park.

The final push came when Canoga Park pulled within 41-35 with 8:05 remaining in the second half after a running layup.

The bucket was followed two possessions later when a steal from Ly generated a three-point play from Ware-Berry, who slashed through the lane and scored despite being fouled.

Ware-Berry sank his subsequent free throw to put the Pioneers back up by nine, 44-35, with 6:31 left.

While Canoga Park pulled within 46-40 with 1:19 left, Providence countered with a free throw from Ware-Berry that was followed, after a defensive rebound from Alec Kurkjian, with another and-one situation, this for Brian Cabagnut, who sank his free throw with 41 seconds left that sealed the game.

"This was a good for us because we had a [69-32] loss to a real tough Alemany team and had to deal with their press and then had a six-point loss to Cleveland that same night," Baskerville said. "So, it was good to get a win to build with this team."

Providence's Achilles heel Saturday morning was rebounding. Canoga Park dominated the boards, winning the overall battle, 28-17, with an offensive rebounding edge of 16-9.

"We haven't really practiced yet. We didn't have one practice this week," Baskerville said. "We had camps going on this week, a summer league going on next week for boys and girls. It's hard to put my stamp on this team until we practice and we'll definitely improve on rebounding."

Even with the win, Ly said the focus of this summer league isn't really on victories.

"This was about getting comfortable with each other because there are a lot of new people coming in," Ly said. "This was about experience."

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