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December 19, 2013

TEN TO WATCH: Providence to face tough weekend challenge

Clarksville hosts Jeff in the Game of the Week

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Providence got serious challenges from its last two opponents, including an overtime win at Austin on Tuesday.

The Pioneers will get two more over the weekend. On Friday, they face rival Charlestown. On Saturday, they play an even bigger rival in Floyd Central.

Despite losing five starters, the Pioneers are 3-0 heading into their biggest weekend of the season so far. Providence has six seniors who were reserves or junior varsity players a year ago. Their contributions — along with some talented freshmen — have made the transition as seamless as possible.

“I think so far this season we’ve improved each game,” said Providence senior Ben Shahroudi, who had 23 points in Tuesday’s win. “It’s a totally different role than we had last year. We’ve been so used to coming off the bench. Now it’s about getting everybody playing their best from start to finish.”

“It’s going to be a challenge all year long,” Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. “At some point, our weaknesses are going to be fully exposed. That’s usually a critical point for any team. The teams we’re playing this weekend will show us what we need to fix. It’s hard, when you’re winning, to get your kids to bear down.”

There’s little doubt that the Pioneers will get their biggest challenge of the year on Saturday when they host Floyd Central. The Pioneers know that the Highlanders are better than their record and Lefevre says the Highlanders are “no question” the best team Providence has faced yet.

“It’s definitely going to be exciting to come out against Floyd Central at home,” Shahroudi said. “It will be exciting to see how our team matches up.”

Of course, first they’ll have to take on another rival in Charlestown. Similarly to Providence, the Pirates lost nearly everyone from last year’s team. However, Charlestown has struggled through a 1-3 start.

“Every single year we deal with the same thing,” Lefevre said. “They’re both rivals but Floyd Central is probably a bigger deal. If you have the right attitude, you have to say, ‘Hey, we’re out for this game on Friday.’ You worry about Saturday’s game after Friday. If the kids aren’t strong-minded, then sure, they’ll come out and not play well. Charlestown lost a lot of good players, but so did we. There’s not a lot of difference in our scenarios.”

“We’re getting prepared right now for them,” Shahroudi said. “We can’t overlook any team at this point. We haven’t proved anything yet. We’re going to take each game one at a time.”

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