Six Earn All-CIF Honors!

March 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Bellarmine-Jefferson High enjoyed a wealth of success this past season in basketball.
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Bell-Jeff Swings Past St. Genevieve!

March 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

BURBANK – Bellarmine-Jefferson 17, St. Genevieve 0: The Guards began Santa Fe League play on a high note Friday with a win at Read more

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Hard Not To Like These Coaches!

March 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In journalism school we’re taught not to play favorites. It’s a journalist’s job, we’re told, not get too attached to the people we’re dealing with, and we have to do everything in our power to try and remain impartial.

In the sports world, that primary directive can be difficult to adhere to, especially when it comes to coaches.

In dealing with the group of area coaches from the four local high schools, it’s hard not to like some more than others.

On the other hand, I realize that there are probably some area coaches who are not exactly fans of mine. I know that some only deal with me because they are told to “be nice to the media,” or they see it is a necessary evil in the course of their jobs.


That type of approach is fine for me, as long as we can all coexist and we remember that when it all comes down to it, it’s all about helping promote the young athletes.

Some coaches just make themselves more available, and along with being great people, they have an extra-special something that makes them stand out among their peers.

One of those coaches is Providence High Athletic Director Andrew Bencze. Bencze, who coaches the girls’ basketball team, has also guided the school’s boys’ and girls’ volleyball programs over the years.

I’ve known Bencze for more than a decade. I have come to trust him, and I believe he trusts me as well.

The other day I sat next to Bencze during a game and we shot the breeze for awhile. Our conversation covered everything from recruiting at other schools, to young athletes of today, to problems that smaller schools face to the difficulties we both have in the course of our jobs.

We talked in complete confidence, knowing that much of what we said would never get past that point. It’s that kind of candidness that makes Bencze one of my favorites.

Another coach I admire — for a completely different reason — is Burbank High boys’ and girls’ tennis and girls’ soccer Coach Loi Phan. Phan has an honesty and a no-nonsense approach to his job that is refreshing.

Being a former football coach — a head coach at Glendale and assistant at Burbank — Phan brings that football mind set to his tennis and soccer teams. If a player is late to a contest, mouths off or doesn’t give it his or her all, Phan has no problem sitting or suspending the athlete.

He has said to me many times that if his varsity players don’t want to follow the program and abide by the rules, he has no problem showing them the door. And as a result, if that means he has to play with all freshmen or junior-varsity players — and lose every contest — he will do it.

In an era in which many star athletes dictate to the coaches how things are going to be, instead of the other way around, Phan is a throwback to a time when discipline wasn’t always a bad word.

The other great thing about Phan is he is brutally honest. If he has a team that he thinks will have trouble competing, he’ll tell you so. Nothing is sugar coated with Phan.

One of the most gracious coaches is Bellarmine-Jefferson High’s Bryan Camacho. Camacho, who is the school’s athletic director, compounded his duties this season by taking on the head boys’ basketball position, adding to his obligations as the Guards girls’ basketball coach.

In covering Camacho’s teams, there has never a time when he doesn’t thank me for coming out. He is truly appreciative of the coverage and he will go out of his way to accommodate the media.

I covered his girls’ basketball team in a state tournament game last week. There were three of us from the media who interviewed Camacho after the game. Staying true to form, Camacho thanked all three of us individually.

In a job that definitely can have its negatives, being appreciated is something that means a great deal.

Two individuals I have a great deal of respect for are Burroughs High football Coach Keith Knoop and Burbank High baseball Coach Bob Hart.

Although I will admit I’m not exactly buddy-buddy with either man, the way both have dealt with their jobs and the members of the media over the years is commendable.

I have seen both coaches suffer their share of tough losses. However, without fail, Knoop and Hart have never blown me off after one of those particularly difficult losses. Instead, they have taken the time to talk to me and give me what I need for my story.

I can’t say the same for some other coaches in the city.

By far, these aren’t the only good coaches at the four area high schools. There are plenty of others who do a tremendous job despite many challenges.

I’ve always said that one of the toughest — and most thankless — professions is that of a youth or high school coach. And when I come across individuals like these who are truly good people, it makes my job that much more enjoyable.

Jeff Tully

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Guards Find Going Rough!

March 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

BRACE PARK — Bell-Jeff dealing with injury problems following 17-8 home loss against Viewpoint.. Read more

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Bell- Jeff Bests Rival!

March 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES – Guards have to work to defeat Providence, 3-1, in nonleague game.  Playing against a winless Providence Read more

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Just Not Enough!

March 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Bell-Jeff comes up short in state playoffs, 61-59. As many times as the Bellarmine-Jefferson Read more

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Harvard-Westlake Sinks Bell-Jeff Once Again!

March 12, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

HARVARD WESTLAKE – Skylar Tsutsui said she’s still getting accustomed to all the attention; the mobs of fans rushing the court, the video cameras pointed in her face and the postgame interviews.

But Tsutsui and her Harvard-Westlake of Studio City teammates demonstrated again Thursday night that when it comes to the big moments during the game, the Wolverines don’t get overwhelmed.

Tsutsui’s free throws with five seconds remaining helped the host Wolverines defeat Bell-Jeff of Burbank for the third time this season, sealing a 61-59 victory in the Southern California regional quarterfinals in the Div. IV state girls’ basketball playoffs.

Harvard-Westlake (31-1), which recorded its 27th consecutive victory, plays host at 7p.m. Saturday to St. Joseph of Santa Maria (26-4) in the regional semifinals.

“At first, I was so nervous, but I took a few deep breaths and that helped me become more relaxed,” said Tsutsui, who sealed Harvard-Westlake’s 58-54 victory Saturday over Bishop Montgomery of Torrance in the Southern Section Div. IV-AA final on a layup with seven seconds remaining.

“My dad always taught me, if I smiled in those situations, it helps. So, I smiled, and it worked. They both felt really good when they left my fingers. As soon as (the ball) left, I knew it was going in.”

Layana White, who led the Guards (25-7) with 16 points, tied the score at 59-59 on a layup with 13 seconds remaining. But Nicole Nesbit quickly pushed the ball into the frontcourt, before it was knocked away and White was whistled for a foul after hitting Tsutsui’s legs diving for the loose ball in the right corner.

Following Tsutsui’s free throws, Rishonda Napier took the inbounds pass for Bell-Jeff. But the Guards’ bid to win back-to-back state championships – after capturing the Div. V title last year – came up short after Napier’s shot from just inside half court hit off the backboard as time expired.

“We looked at our opponent in the eye for four quarters and we battled. The kids kept believing in each other and they were able to come through and make big shots, just like they had all year,” Bell-Jeff coach Bryan Camacho said.

“But give credit to Harvard-Westlake. They find a way to win. They’ve been through the ups and downs and they’ve been through the battles. Credit Nesbit and (Nicole) Hung, those kids are winners.”

After a 22-point loss Dec. 21 at the Nike Tournament of Champions and a 66-62 setback Jan. 5 to Harvard-Westlake, Bell-Jeff didn’t make the Wolverines’ return to the regional semifinals an easy task.

Harvard-Westlake held an eight-point lead with seven minutes remaining, but despite the efforts of Nicole Hung (21 points, nine rebounds), Sydney Haydel (10 points, 12 rebounds) and Nesbit (13 points, seven rebounds, five steals), the Guards didn’t back down.

But when Jasmine Smith (12 points, 13 rebounds) picked up her fifth foul with 4:16 left, it made Bell-Jeff’s task even tougher. The Guards rallied behind free throws from Napier and White’s basket to pull even, before Tsutsui (10 points) kept alive the Wolverines’ pursuit of a state title.

“We saw the girls’ soccer team lose and we didn’t want that to be us,” Nesbit said. “We want to keep it going for Harvard-Westlake.”

Erik Boal

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Bell-Jeff Rebounds, Advances in State!

March 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Corcoran – Bell-Jeff of Burbank took 10 days worth of frustration out on Corcoran in the opening round of the Southern California Div. IV girls’ basketball regional playoffs Tuesday night.

Freshman Leslie Lopez-Wood hit six 3-pointers and led Bell-Jeff with 24 points in a 76-55 victory over the Central Section Div. IV champion Panthers, setting up a third showdown this season in Thursday’s regional quarterfinals with top-seeded Harvard-Westlake of Studio City (30-1).

“We’re anxious, we’re ready and Thursday night we’re going to give it everything we’ve got,” Bell-Jeff coach Bryan Camacho said. “We know we’re going up against a monster, a phenomenal, but we’re excited about the opportunity. We’re going to give Harvard-Westlake our very best.”

Bell-Jeff, the defending Div. V state champion, rebounded from a 61-57 loss Feb. 27 to Windward in the Southern Section Div. IV-A semifinals to knock off host Corcoran (24-6).

Jasmine Smith had 14 points, Layana White added 10 points and Julia Tani contributed nine points for the Guards, who put the game away by outscoring Corcoran 17-9 in the third quarter.

Margeaux Gupilan added eight points and Rishonda Napier had seven points for Bell-Jeff, which suffered a 69-47 loss Dec. 21 to Div. IV-AA champion Harvard-Westlake and a 66-62 setback Jan. 5.

– Erik Boal

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State-Tourney Win For Guards!

March 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Bell-Jeff beats Corcoran, 76-55, to set up big test. The Bellarmine-Jefferson High Read more

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Bell-Jeff Gets A New Lease In Playoffs!

March 9, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON – A pile of jerseys lay on top of a box in the corner of Bryan Camacho’s office, with the Bell-Jeff Read more

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