BBK: Providence breezes past Shandon 81-35 in CIF opener

Behind an impressive second quarter in which the Patriots transformed a six-point deficit into a 17-point advantage, Providence’s boys basketball team defeated Shandon 81-35 in a CIF Division-6 first-round playoff game on Wednesday night at Westmont College.

“Early on in that first quarter, we came out a little sluggish,” said Patriots first-year head coach Steve Stokes. “When our guys started trapping and pressing, we made some good things happen. This led to some steals which got us out in transition and led to some pretty easy baskets.”

Throughout the night, Providence’s two guards Bryan Sheets and Matthew Eaton provided too much firepower for the Outlaws to overcome. Sheets led the team in scoring on the night with 24 points while Eaton added 16 points and five steals.

“I thought we played really well tonight. Coach always says it starts with our defense and the key to winning this game was our ball pressure,” commented Eaton.

Despite what seemed like an absolute blowout throughout, the Patriots trailed Shandon by a score of 16-10 at the end of the first quarter. However, Providence finished the first half on a tear with a trifecta of steals from Eaton translating to fast-break buckets for his team. The Patriots outscored the Outlaws by twenty-three points in the second quarter to take a 45-28 lead into the break.

When asked what allowed the defense to be so successful, Eaton responded: “A lot of hustle and our guys were really getting back on defense to help one another. Once we got the ball, we knew that our guys could run and beat them down the floor.”

After the break, Providence completely blew the game open with ball-hawking press on defense and effective fast-break offense. The Patriots outscored Shandon 28-2 during an impressive third quarter. At one point in the period, Rohaam Miarkiani scored five consecutive layups off of Outlaws’ turnovers. The senior guard finished with 14 points on the evening.

“Tonight, our guys did a really good job of bouncing back by picking up their energy and enthusiasm for the rest of the game,” chipped in coach Stokes. “For the final three quarters, the guys played playoff basketball which is what we have been talking about all week.”

Providence finished the third quarter on an exclamation point after Sheets nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer which sent the home crowd into a jubilant state. This was the last of a consecutive trio of three-pointers that the freshman had scored to end the period. The Patriots carried a 75-30 advantage heading into the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“After falling behind by six in the first quarter, we really brought our press for the remainder of the game and outscored them by a lot,” added Sheets. “Our trapping defensive got them panicked and when they couldn’t handle the pressure we took over.”

With the victory, the Providence (12-10 overall) advance to the second round of the CIF Division 6 Playoffs. The Patriots will play host to Rio Hondo Prep on Friday night at the Westmont gym. Earlier this season, the Kares defeated Providence 53-45 during the Ojai Valley Classic Tournament.

“Our team is going to play a really good squad who we have already played before. The guys know what they are all about and we are going to make sure that our team brings it on Friday night,” concluded coach Stokes.