Guards Take State Title!

March 24, 2009 by  

BURBANK –  Shelley Gupilan leads way with 22 points, as Bell-Jeff defeats Pinewood, 55-47, to win first team championship in city history.

Shelley Gupilan has been the leader of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball team all season.

In the biggest game of the year — and biggest in school and city history — the Guards were looking for the senior to step up one more time.

And that’s exactly what she did — big time.

Gupilan scored a game-high 22 points Friday to lead Bell-Jeff to a 55-47 win against Pinewood in the CIF State Basketball Division V Championships at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

It is not only the first state title for Bell-Jeff, but it is the first team championship in any sport won by any school in Burbank history.

“Shelley is just a special kid,” Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho said. “She was just able to step it up and really showcase all of her talents in this game. She got the job done when we needed her and she came through for us big time I can’t say enough about her.”

“I am just so happy for all of my three seniors.

Along with Gupilan, the other seniors are Elizabeth Hawthorne and Cindy Melchor.

Gupilan, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year, was eight of 14 from the floor and tallied 14 of her 22 points in the second half. She also had six rebounds.

Her cousin, Margeaux Gupilan, a junior, added 13 points, including two three-pointers. Freshman Rishonda Napier had nine points and Hawthorne added seven rebounds.

The win ups Bell-Jeff’s record to 34-1, which sets a new school record. In addition, the team ends the season on a 20-game winning streak.

The lone blemish on the Guards’ record was a one-point loss to Montclair Prep in a nonleague game Dec. 30.

Bell-Jeff, which won its first Southern Section title in 12 years and captured the Southern California Regional for the first time, knocked off a Pinewood team that had an undefeated record in three state-title appearances.

The Panthers (31-5), who came into the game on a 21-game winning streak, won championships in 1999, 2005 and 2006.

It was Bell-Jeff’s first appearance in championship competition.

The Guards were able to win the battle of teams with very similar styles. Both squads came out applying full-court pressure and that led to 20 total turnovers in the first half.

The Panthers were hampered by poor shooting throughout the game. They had their share of open looks, but many of their shots just didn’t fall.

Pinewood, the Northern California Regional champion, shot just 28% (six of 26) from the floor for the game. In contrast, the Guards shot 44%.

The Panthers struggled mightily in the first half when they shot just 21%.

Led by eight points each from Shelley Gupilan, Margeaux Gupilan and Rishonda Napier, Bell-Jeff held a 31-20 advantage at the half.

The Guards led, 43-32, after three quarters. That advantage ballooned to 16 points, 43-27, with 1:31 left in the third after two free throws by Shelley Gupilan.

“This is such a special feeling for us to win the championship,” Camacho said. “It is a testament to all of the hard work, and really the hunger, that these girls have had all season.

“The girls are on Cloud 9 and they are just so excited. It is an amazing feeling, something that we don’t want to end.”

By Jeff Tully

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One Response to “Guards Take State Title!”

  1. Jan Broneer on March 28th, 2009 4:49 pm

    Congratulations Coach Camacho! As a former P.E. teacher at Jordan M.S. in Burbank, it was my supreme pleasure to have worked with Rishonda Napier when she was only in 6th grade. She also enrolled in my 7th Period “Hoop Dreams” class, designed especially with students like her in mind. I still remember the competitive, tenacious attitude she had then and I always knew she would have a wonderful career. I was surprised to see her name in the Bell-Jeff lineup, and not the JBHS one, since her brother Ryan had gone there. But it seems she made the right move and I am so happy for her and for your team. Please feel free to share my email address with her, as you see fit, as I would love to hear from her. “Hoop Dreams” DO come true!
    Thank you,
    Mrs. Jan Broneer, Retired P.E. Teacher
    Jordan Middle School

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