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Pioneers blaze road to final

Boys' basketball: Providence defeats Kilpatrick, 74-61, and will play league foe Holy Martyrs for championship.

February 24, 2012|BY JEFF TULLY, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

PROVIDENCE HIGH — Marcus LoVett Jr. and Patrick Gonzalez have led the Providence High boys' basketball team all season. So it seemed fitting that the two players were also instrumental in guiding the Pioneers to their first-ever CIF Southern Section championship game.

LoVett was stellar from the free-throw line and Gonzalez put on a three-point shooting exhibition to pace host Providence to a 74-61 win against Kilpatrick on Friday in a Division V-A semifinal game.

Just a freshman, LoVett led all scorers with 45 points. He converted 22 of his 27 free-throw attempts, including hitting 14 in the fourth quarter. In addition, he sank three three-pointers. Gonzalez, a senior, make good on six three-pointers in posting a 24-point game that included 12 rebounds and eight steals.

"When they double-team Marcus, I just try to help out and get open," said Gonzalez, who led the state in scoring and three-pointers last season. "If I'm open, I take the shot. Shooters shoot."

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The appearance in the semifinal was historic for the No. 1-seeded Pioneers, (25-4), who had never gotten past the quarterfinals in the postseason. That makes the program's appearance in a CIF basketball final special for the Providence players.

"It was a goal of ours to make it to the finals," LoVett said. "It was an accomplishment that we worked really hard to get."

The Pioneers will be trying to win just the school's second CIF Southern Section championship. The only other title came in 1986 when a Jeff Cirillo-led baseball team captured a Small Schools title.

Although Providence won't know when it will play for the division title until details are released by the CIF on Tuesday, the Pioneers definitely know something about their opponent in the final. The Pioneers, who won the Liberty League championship, will be taking on league runner-up Holy Martyrs.

The No. 3-seeded Armens had to come from behind to defeat No. 2 Rolling Hills Prep, 48-47, on the road Friday in a semifinal.

The Pioneers defeated Holy Martyrs (19-11) twice this season, 56-53, and, 62-54.

"It's always harder to beat a team the third time around," Providence first-year Coach Ernest Baskerville said. "Both times we were up by 20 at the half and they came back to make it a closer game. At least we know what to expect from them.

"But the kids are excited about being in the final. No matter who they would have put in front of us, we were going to be ready to play."

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