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Providence captures championship

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Defense helps Pioneers secure league title.

February 16, 2010|By Jeff Tully

Playing solid defense hasn’t been an option, it’s been a necessity, for the Providence High girls’ basketball team this season.

The Pioneers have used that defense to augment their game when their offense isn’t playing up to par.

It is that defense that has allowed Providence to make a run at the Liberty League championship.

Using their forte to their advantage Thursday, the Pioneers finished the Liberty League campaign with a 37-24 win against host Holy Martyrs to capture their first championship in three seasons.

The win was substantial because the Armens are ranked No. 5 in CIF Southern Section Division VIAA. Providence is No. 14 in VAA.

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“We have emphasized defense a great deal this season,” Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. “We use our defense to keep us in games when we are shooting poorly. The girls have done just a great job at implementing our defense this season.”

Providence (17-9, 7-1 in league) ends the regular season in first place ahead of Buckley, which had two league losses heading into Friday’s finale against Viewpoint.

With the championship comes a guaranteed home game for the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s really nice to be able to open the playoffs on your home floor, in front of your home fans,” Bencze said. “We’re looking forward to the playoffs.”

In Thursday’s win, senior Christine Mallari — a four-year starter — had 12 points to go along with five rebounds, and teammate Ana Solis had 12 points and six rebounds for the Pioneers.

It was a defensive struggle early on for the Pioneers against Holy Martyrs (15-9, 4-4). They fell behind the hosts, 6-4, after the first quarter, and battled back to take a 12-10 lead into halftime.

Solis, who was held scoreless — missing all eight of her shot attempts — through the first two quarters, stepped up in the second half. She scored all of her 12 points in the final two quarters, going four for five from the floor, including three three-pointers.

“We were able to battle back in a very defensive game,” Bencze said. “The kids just worked so hard, and they deserve what they were able to achieve.”

In the second half, the Pioneers outscored the Armens, 23-14.


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