By JON REITER
After Tuesday night’s upset loss at the hands of the Silver Creek Dragons, the Class 2A No. 4 Providence Pioneers boys’ basketball team looked to rebound Friday against visiting Christian Academy of Indiana.
After overcoming a shaky first half, the Pioneers got back on track by scoring 11 unanswered points to open the second half en route to a 47-26 pasting of the Warriors on Homecoming Night.
Providence only led at the half 16-10 and was having difficulty containing forward Aaron Hayes, who scored all of Christian Academy’s first half points. But what followed was what Coach Lou Lefevre termed his squad’s best half of basketball of the season, leading to the Pioneers’ easy win.
“The second half was the best we’ve played all season. By far,” said Lefevre, whose troops improved to 13-2 with the win. “Finally, defensively, we took away everything they wanted. Offensively, we were efficient.
“I asked them at halftime, ‘Why do you guys look so nervous on offense?’ I don’t know what they were so nervous about. Maybe it was because we lost our last game. We needed to relax and just play basketball, and in the second half we were able to do it.”
Providence led at the end of the first quarter 8-7 and Christian Academy tied it early in the second quarter at 10 after hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key wtih 5:04 remaining.
Those were the last points the Warriors (5-8) would score until 4:53 remaining in the third quarter, when two Hayes free throws made the score 27-12 Providence.
Hayes led Christian Academy with 18 points, and four other Warrior players scored two points apiece. Coach Steve Kerberg saluted Providence’s defensive effort and said his squad had difficulty standing to the pressure in the second half.
“They’re a really good team that’s worthy of that ranking,” Kerberg said. “We had to be able to execute a certain gameplay to stay with them. I don’t know that we did that good of a job in the first half but we were still in position to have a chance. But they’re one of the leading defensive teams in the state. When their defense is on, they just won’t let you shoot the ball.”
Senior forward George Knott paced the Pioneers with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Three other Pioneer players — Cory Cahalan, Dalton Duley and Ryan Pickerell — added eight points apiece.
The hosts were able to have a little fun towards the end of the game, as Duley threw down a one-handed dunk in transition to complete the scoring with 12 seconds left in the contest.
After Tuesday’s loss, the dunk perhaps provided a little bit of catharsis to the team.
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask them,” Lefevre said when asked if the ensuing two days of practice following the Silver Creek loss were difficult ones. “Anytime you are beaten like we were by a young struggling team, your pride should be hurt. You feel like you let each other down and you’re dying to get back out on the court and show you can play.”
It was the third loss in a row for the Warriors, whose record doesn’t truly indicate their competitiveness. Christian Academy’s last four games have come against Christian Academy (Ky.) and Louisville Manual — two very good teams from the other side of the river — plus Class A No. 5 Borden and Providence.
“We’ve played a very tough schedule and I think that’s going to help us come tournament time,” Kerberg said. “It is tough to lose these games, but we’re a better team than our record shows and this will help us get better over the rest of the season.”
The Warriors travel to Trinity Lutheran on Friday, while Providence faces New Albany in the Doghouse that same evening.