There were serious doubts whether the Pioneers would be able to give their coach the win, as they didn't play particularly well in the first half, as Providence Hall led for most of the first three quarters. But the Pioneers intensified their defensive pressure in the third and that allowed them to surge in front and eventually notch a 62-44 victory at home.
Since taking over the girls' basketball program in 1994, Bencze has built Providence into a winner, both in the Liberty League and in the playoffs. Under Bencze, the Pioneers have captured nine league championships, including the last three.
After the conclusion of the game, a ceremony on the court was held to commemorate Bencze's accomplishment. The coach seemed a bit overwhelmed by the attention.
"I didn't even know I was that close to 300 until the other day," said Bencze, who was informed of his win total by assistant coach Nick Rondin.
"When I think about 300 wins, I think, No. 1, that they all have been at Providence. I graduated from Providence and I'm very proud to be a part of the school. And that makes it that much more special because it come at a school that I really love. But another thing that I think about is, although it's 300 victories, there are a lot of girls who have been a very big part of what I've been able to accomplish."
Two Providence players who have learned from four years of playing under Bencze are seniors Janel Adraneda and Bea Benedicto. Both said they were determined to get their coach the win Friday night.
"Before our last practice, coach Rondin told us about it and that's how we knew," Adraneda said. "Knowing it was this 300th win, we all talked and said to each other 'Come on guys, we need to get this.' It meant a lot for us seniors who have been with him for so long … our goal was to get it for him."
Said Benedicto: "We needed to get the win not only for senior night, but because it was for Mr. Bencze's 300th win. We just wanted to pull through for him."