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Pioneers make history in dramatic fashion

Basketball: Providence advances to semifinals for first time following 56-54 playoff win at home.

February 22, 2012|BY ANDREW SHORTALL,

PROVIDENCE HIGH — The coin has landed in favor of the Providence High girls' basketball team so far this postseason, as the Pioneers played their third-straight playoff game at home Wednesday.

And for the third-straight game, Providence outlasted its opposition — this time it was Mesa Grande Academy — on a game-winning bucket from Bea Benedicto with 18 seconds left for a 56-54 win in the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA quarterfinal.

"It's a huge adrenaline rush because you know you make it or you break it in those last couple seconds," said Benedicto, who finished with 10 points. "Thank the Lord we pulled it off."


The No. 6 Cardinals (24-2) were the second team in a row to showcase their nerves late on Providence's home floor, as they committed nine turnovers and two technical fouls in the final eight minutes.

Home court has been big for No. 3 Providence (25-4), as both CIF flips to determine the home team in the second round and quarterfinal have all fallen in the Pioneers' favor.

"I am going to call CIF and ask for that coin, put in a frame, put it on my wall — the lucky coin that's helped us out," Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. "It's been great and obviously we've needed it, we've had some close games.

"Now we have to go on the road and I think we're ready for that, we're ready for that challenge."

Bencze is referring to Saturday's semifinal when Providence will travel to Ojai to face No. 2 Villanova Prep at 7 p.m. It's the first time in program history the Pioneers have advanced to the semifinal.

"This is the first time this has ever happened in Providence history and our team is stoked it's happening to us," said Benedicto, who was held in check until the fourth quarter when she scored five points and pulled down three of her four rebounds.

Katia Dabbaghian came up big for Providence all game, including the fourth quarter, where she scored eight of her game-high 17 points and hit all four of her free throws.

"It's like history, we've come this far already and you have to do whatever you can to keep going," said Dabbaghian, who also had eight steals.

It was an all-around effort, though, as Amanda Reyes scored 10 points, Janel Adraneda added nine and Nicole Mungues and Estelle Glorioso added five each for the Pioneers.

The Pioneers held a 29-19 turnover advantage, which helped them outlast a 37-19 disadvantage on the glass.

The game was eerily similar to Providence's 42-40 second-round win over Brethren Christian Saturday.

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