Goss: As one Providence basketball era ends, another may be beginning
By Dick Goss email@example.com March 7, 2013 11:07PM
Miles Boykin, of Providence, gets fouled by Hillcrest's Taylor Adway. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:37AM
The fourth quarter signaled the end of an era in Providence basketball.
The first three quarters gave indication of the positive direction third-year coach Tim Trendel has this program going.
The Celtics (15-14) had a 44-40 lead early in the fourth quarter but it melted away as favored Hillcrest (23-6) secured a 59-51 victory in the semifinals of the Class 3A Rich South Sectional.
There’s no way to replace what 6-foot-1 senior guard Kevin Kozan has done for the Celtics. If you love the way Juozas Baciunas handled the point for Lemont, Kozan was his counterpart with the Celtics.
After such a marvelous career, and a senior season in which he averaged 20 points per game, all Kozan could muster Thursday was eight points on 3-of-21 shooting.
Normally, you would think a kid who goes 3-of-21 would have shot his team out of the game. But Kozan, who probably handled the ball more than anyone in high school basketball, has the uncanny ability to make enough big plays breaking down defenses, passing and on defense that he is always an asset.
“Kevin will always keep us right there,” Trendel said. “He is that kind of guy. He had a heck of a career.”
“Other people didn’t think so, but we came in thinking we would win,” Kozan said. “The shots weren’t falling, but we were right there. I give all the credit to all these guys (his teammates).”
Another senior playing his final game, guard Jay Ramadurai, enjoyed a big night with 19 points, including an 11-of-12 showing on free throws.
“Jay stepped up and played like a senior in our program should,” Trendel said. “We didn’t do things different, he did different stuff. He got fouled, did all the fundamentals.”
“We followed the game plan and played like we practiced,” Ramadurai said. “And we practiced real hard.”
Providence’s sophomore team finished 25-1 — and that was without 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Miles Boykin, who averaged nearly a double-double in his second varsity season and already was All-Catholic League South.
It is difficult to imagine Trendel thinking anything more of Boykin’s potential.
“By his senior year, Miles should be a candidate for Mr. Basketball in Illinois — if I do my job,” Trendel said. “We played against all these kids who play above the rim. Well, Miles played a notch above that.”
Besides Boykin and the upcoming sophomore team, Providence also has a good group of juniors led by 6-6 Nick Dinardi and Mitch Vanderway.
When Trendel arrived at Providence, he made it his goal to restore the Celtics’ basketball program to the lofty position it once held. Even without Kozan and the others who played their final game Thursday, don’t be surprised if he succeeds.
“One thing we have done is put our program on the map, where it’s as important as the other great sports programs at our school,” Trendel said. “The goal still is to get to the point where we are mentioned with the great teams in the Catholic League, in the south suburbs, all over the area.”
With the Celtics being barely above .500, you might think them more of an average team than a very good one. The Catholic League schedule is unforgiving, however. Providence faced the best and for the most part played tough.
That’s why I thought Trendel’s team had a legitimate shot to beat Hillcrest and then Rich South and play in Tuesday’s supersectional at Joliet Central. But after the game Thursday was tied at 46 midway through the fourth quarter, things went south.
“We couldn’t buy a bucket,” said Trendel, whose team shot 33 percent. “A lot of that had to do with their pressure, and sometimes it was perceived pressure.”
But it was good for the Celtics program to be in a sectional, to continue building toward a return to the days when Providence basketball was as good as it got.
“We go into 4A next year,” Trendel noted. “But that’s no reason we should not be back in this game — or further.”