BURBANK — Providence High's girls' basketball team may have entered the halftime locker room with a lead on Thursday night against Fillmore in their CIF Southern Section Division 4-A first-round match-up, but it also entered the room knowing it hadn't done quite enough.
Turnovers and shaky defense allowed Fillmore to hang around in the first, but Providence dominated the second half in a 51-33 victory.
"We knew we were playing poorly and with the energy we usually do," said Providence guard Katia Dabbaghian. "So we were trying to redefine ourselves."
In doing so, Providence (17-6) closed the game on a 30-16 run and didn't allow Fillmore (10-13) a second-half point until the 2:05 mark of the third quarter.
Dabbaghian was the catalyst for Providence's turnaround, scoring eight of her team-high 17 points in the third quarter, as the team clamped down on defense.
"We started to leave people on the inside and it stacked things up. [Fillmore] couldn't get easy baskets anymore," said Providence Coach Andrew Bencze of the second half.
Known for its defensive strength, Providence forced 27 turnovers, leaving Fillmore scrambling for most of the night.
"A four-point game [means] we're still in the game," said Fillmore Coach Kimberly Tafoya of the 21-17 halftime score. "We could have come back. Give it to the Pioneers. They came out and started pulling away after half and we weren't able to execute."
Now, the Liberty League-champion Pioneers move on to face either Campbell Hall or Village Christian in a matchup they know they will have to enter with more intensity from the start.
"I hope so," Bencze said. "We were talking about how we worked hard so we got a good position in the playoffs. We were lucky we got our good draw and chose to play our bad game in the first round."
But for all the perceived struggles in the first half, Providence showed it is a dynamic team capable of flipping a switch when things aren't going perfectly.
"I'm glad we're able to do that," Dabbaghian said. "Not all teams can do that when they start playing poorly, they can't do that."
Fortunately for Providence, they're one of the teams that can. And as a result, they're moving on.
"It's always exciting to have that next game," Dabbaghian said, "and be one step closer to the championship."