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Providence upset by league foe

Despite LoVett's late heroics, top-seeded Pioneers lose to Holy Martyrs in Division 5-A final.

March 03, 2012|BY GABRIEL RIZK, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

SANTA ANA — With nine points scored by Marcus LoVett, Jr. inside the final minute and 45 seconds of overtime, the Providence High boys' basketball team finished Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division 5-A championship game on a tear that almost forced a second extra session.

But the freshman phenom's one-man show down the stretch, which included a steal of an inbound play with three seconds left that gave the top-seeded Pioneers one more chance to tie the game, couldn't make up for the previous nearly eight minutes in which the team went scoreless from the field.

During that span, the Pioneers blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead to third-seeded Holy Martyrs, allowing their Liberty League rival to steal the title with a 65-62 win at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana.

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"It was a little bit frustrating," said LoVett, Jr., who led all scorers with 38 points on 13 of 34 shooting from the field, as the entire team shot just 33% (22 of 65). "We didn't make some key shots that we should have made, but we have to just live with that now."

Despite losing both regular season meetings to Providence (25-5), the Armens (20-11) wouldn't be denied Saturday, continuously hitting big three-point shots (eight of 20), led by 30 points from Nshan Kenjejion.

Kenjejion's sixth three-pointer of the game gave Holy Martyrs a 57-53 lead with 2:00 left in overtime and, although LoVett, Jr. started his finishing kick on a floater the next trip down for the Pioneers' first points from the field since the 5:18 mark of the fourth quarter, the Armens would get two more consecutive stops and go a perfect eight for eight from the free-throw line down the stretch of overtime to protect the lead.

"This game hurt," said Pioneers senior guard Patrick Gonzalez, who finished with seven points, but was called for traveling as he tried to step behind the three-point line for a potential game-tying buzzer-beater after LoVett, Jr. saved his overtime steal to Gonzalez while falling out of bounds. "I feel like we should have won it and we just didn't play to our capabilities."

The Pioneers' regrettable trend of finishing quarters flat offensively began in the second, where neither team scored over a period of 5:03 until LoVett, Jr. sank a three-pointer with 12 seconds left to put Providence up, 25-23, at the half.

In the third quarter, the Pioneers scored just two points over the final 4:28 and this time paid for it by losing a seven-point lead and trailed by two going into the fourth.

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