Bell-Jeff Wins CIF Division V-A Quarterfinal!

February 27, 2015 by  

bj_boysBB_clarkBURBANK — In its first two playoff games, the Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys’ basketball team was relatively untested, winning both contests by an average of 36.5 points.

In the CIF Southern Section Division V-A quarterfinals Tuesday, the Guards looked to have a legitimate challenge in Lone Pine. The Golden Eagles came into the contest on a 24-game winning streak and possessed a tall order with 6-foot-10 center Brad Greene.

Bell-Jeff had trouble containing Greene in the first half and held just a five-point lead early in the second quarter.

However, the Guards came on in the third quarter, created some separation and went on to post an 81-67 victory at home.

PHOTOS: Bell-Jeff advances to semifinals after 81-67 victory over Lone Pine

The No. 1-ranked Guards (25-5), winners of 11 straight, advanced to the semifinals after falling in the quarterfinal round the previous two seasons. It is the first time Bell-Jeff has been in the final four in 18 years, the last occurring in 1997 when a Ruben Douglas-led team fell to Gardena Serra, 90-61. Current Bell-Jeff assistant coach Eli Essa was the head coach of that 1998 team.

“It was something that we talked about in the locker room,” Bell-Jeff Coach Julian Andrade said of the goal of making it to the semifinals. “Being in the quarterfinals, we felt like we hadn’t accomplished anything yet. Losing twice in the quarterfinals, we were focused on making it to the semifinals this time.

“Now we’re there and we just have to keep it going.”

The Guards will travel to Playa del Rey to take on St. Bernard in the semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday. St. Bernard (13-17), the No. 5 seed and an at-large team from the Del Rey League, punched its ticket to the final four with a 51-35 quarterfinal victory Tuesday against Mary Star of the Sea.

“It feels really good to be going to the semifinals,” said Bell-Jeff senior Abid Oses, who paced the Guards with 24 points to go along with six rebounds and six steals. “We just kept thinking that we don’t want to be hurt like we were the last two years, so we went out and played the hardest that we could.”

Bell-Jeff found the going rough against Greene, who, despite his size, showed range with an array of inside moves as well as outside shots. He even drained a three-pointer. The junior finished with a monster effort of 26 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks.

Because of Greene’s play inside, the Guards had to continually alter their shots in the paint. However, Bell-Jeff did find success from the outside and finally began to convert around the basket in the second half.

“He is a great player,” Andrade said. “He just altered so many of our shots and he made it difficult for us all night. I think I underestimated him; he knows how to play basketball. That’s just a good team overall.”

bj_bb-CIFBell-Jeff also received 16 points and seven steals from Isaac Etter, 13 points from Clark Thomas and 10 points and three steals from Marco Escribano. The Guards also got a boost from the return of Raffy Verano (12 points, eight rebounds and three steals), who made its first playoff appearance after being sidelined with an ankle injury he suffered in the final regular-season game.

Lone Pine, the No. 8 seed, had problems taking care of the ball, committing 25 turnovers.

It was 15 turnovers in the first half that helped the Guards maintain a lead. Bell-Jeff jumped to a 22-14 advantage after the first quarter, but saw that lead whittled down to five, 25-20, with 5:19 remaining in the second quarter.

“We have been tested this season and we have been in some tight games against some very good teams,” Andrade said. “So when teams push back, our guys know how to handle it.”

The Guards did just that and headed into halftime with a 42-31 lead.

Three times in the third quarter, Bell-Jeff pushed its lead to 20 points, but every time the Golden Eagles fought back and just wouldn’t go away.

In the fourth, Lone Pine got the advantage down to 10, 64-54, with 6:51 left. However, the Guards would embark on an 11-2 run shortly thereafter to get the game back in hand.

 

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jeff.tully@latimes.com

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