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Pioneers survive

Girls' basketball: Providence is inconsistent in notching opening playoff victory.

February 16, 2012|BY JEFF TULLY, jeff.tully@latimes.com

PROVIDENCE HIGH — There were times Thursday when the Providence High girls' basketball team looked like a poised group ready to make a deep postseason run. However, at other times the Pioneers looked like a squad that suffered from nerves and had problems taking care of the ball.

It was definitely a challenging way for Providence to open the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA playoffs.

The third-seeded Pioneers did enough to gain a first-round win against Arrowhead Christian Academy, as they staved off a late comeback attempt to notch a 54-45 home victory.

With the win, the Pioneers (23-4), the three-time Liberty League champions, will take on Brethren Christian (18-9) at 7 p.m. Saturday at a site to be determined. Brethren Christian, the No. 3 team from the Academy League, defeated Hamilton, 41-17, in a first-round game Thursday.

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Trying to pinpoint his team's inconsistent play, Providence Coach Andrew Bencze is hoping it was nothing more than opening-game jitters.

"We have a group of kids playing at the wing who were experiencing their first playoff game," Bencze said. "They're just not quite sure how to handle the emotional impact of the playoffs. It's just hard to execute when your motor's running 100 miles per hour."

One player who seemed unfazed by the playoff atmosphere was Providence freshman guard Katia Dabbaghian. The first-year player had 19 points — including three three-pointers — to go along with eight assists and four steals.

Although it didn't show, Dabbaghian admitted she had some jitters before the game.

"I was a little nervous because it was my first playoff game, but in the end it was just another game," she said. "We just wanted to come hard."

The Pioneers also received solid production from a pair of junior starters. Janel Adraneda tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds and Bea Benedicto added 12 points.

Providence played without two players, one a key sub who was benched and the other a starter, senior Catherine Saint, who is suffering from an injured ankle she suffered last week.

"Missing Catherine obviously hurts us," Bencze said. "We're hoping to survive a couple of rounds and maybe we can get Catherine back. I'm not going to put her out there if it's going to damage her ankle further; it's just not worth it."

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