Bell-Jeff train hits Pioneers!

December 19, 2008 by  

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Providence proves no match for the talented and physical play of the Guards, falling in a nonleague game, 71-13.

By Jeff Tully – Burbank Leader(Photo: Roger Wilson/The Leader)

PROVIDENCE HIGH — The annual cross-town rivalry game between the Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence girls’ basketball teams had all the makings of a monumental mismatch.

The Guards were coming off a 2007-08 season in which they shared a Santa Fe League title and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IVA championship.

The Pioneers, on the other hand, lost twice as many games as they won a year ago, placed fifth in the Liberty League and failed to make it to the postseason.

Luckily for the Providence, it has more talent and a deeper team this season. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, Bell-Jeff looks to be even more talented his year, as well.

As if they were hit by a freight train, the Pioneers suffered the brunt of a runaway blowout head on, as the Guards steam rolled their way to a 71-13 nonleague win Saturday at Providence High.

It is the second straight season the Guards (6-1) have decimated their rival, as they defeated the Pioneers, 63-18, in 2007.

What used to be a close affair between the city’s two private schools has been anything but the last two years. In 2006, however, Providence won the contest, 41-35, notching its third straight cross-town victory.

“It’s frustrating for us, because coming into the game we knew what we were up against,” Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said.

“[Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan] Camacho has done a great job, he has a great program and a great group of athletes. But lets face it; none of those kids were around two years ago. When we were beating them three times in a row, it was more of an even playing field, as far as athleticism. But the last few years, with all their kids coming in, it’s just not an even playing field any more. That’s what’s most frustrating.”

The Pioneers (4-2) were simply outmatched against a Bell-Jeff squad that is physical, relentless in its hounding of ballhandlers and extremely quick.

Camacho said no matter the opponent, his players come out and play hardnosed basketball.

“That’s the style we feel we have to play to be successful,” Camacho said. “We want to get out and get at it from the very beginning. Our goal is to throw other teams off their game and hopefully make them play our game.”

Camacho said that tough play extends to practices, as well.

“Most of the time our practices are tougher than our games,” he said. “Because we are so deep, our players are tested more just playing against one another. Our practices are very intense.”

The Guards are so deep, in fact, that they didn’t loose much in the way of talent when they went to their second unit against the Pioneers. Even the squad’s third unit had little trouble keeping the rout going.

Senior Shelley Gupilan got Bell-Jeff rolling early. The 2007 All-Area Player of the Year scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the first quarter. She also had eight rebounds.

She helped the Guards stake a 19-2 lead after the first quarter.

The Pioneers didn’t do themselves any favors in the first quarter, as they converted just one of their 10 shots from the field. They scored their lone points of the stanza with 2:28 left when senior Jackie Balousek drove to the hoop.

Balousek was Providence’s high scorer with four points. Junior Christine Mallari had five rebounds.

It was more of the same for the Guards in the second quarter, as they outscored the Pioneers, 19-5, to take a commanding 38-7 advantage at the half.

Bell-Jeff received fine play off the bench from freshman Jasmine Smith, who had 16 points. Leading the defensive charge was senior Elizabeth Hawthorne, who had eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

The Guards were able to increase their lead to 59-9 after three quarters. The Pioneers made just two baskets from the floor through the first three quarters.

The fourth quarter was played with a running clock, which didn’t seem to slow Bell-Jeff, which allowed Providence just four points.

“This is the best Bell-Jeff team I’ve ever coached against,” Bencze said. “They just have the whole package. That team is the real deal.”

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