Gupilan Named CIF POY!

April 8, 2009 by  

BASKETBALL: Guards standout is one of four Bell-Jeff players selected to All-CIF team after season for history books. 

Anyone familiar with the success of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball team this past season is probably not surprised that the Guards are well-represented with their share of postseason accolades.

Not surprising, the team that won a CIF Southern Section championship and a state title has four players who have made the list, including senior Shelley Gupilan, who was named the Division V-A Player of the Year.

“That is a great surprise,” said Burbank Coach Jose Hernandez when told about his player’s honor. “We submitted the stats, but we didn’t know if he made it or not. It’s nice that he was honored.”

Along with Shelley Gupilan, three of the Guards’ other starting five were named to the team. Junior Margeaux Gupilan, Shelley’s cousin, and freshman Rishonda Napier were honored on the first team and senior Elizabeth Hawthorne was a second-team selection.

We are just honored as a program to have that many players make the All-CIF team,” Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho said. “I think it is a testament to all the hard work they put in and their ability as athletes.”

Shelley Gupilan was the team’s go-to player all season. She proved to be a versatile contributor who could muscle for points and rebounds in the paint as well as hit the three-pointer. She was also a solid defender.

Gupilan was named the Santa Cruz League Player of the year in a season in which she averaged 18.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals a game.

She also came up big in the postseason, averaging 20.2 points a game.

“The amazing thing was that Shelley kept getting better as the season went along,” Camacho said. “She is just a great player and she turned out to be the X-factor for us. She was the one who helped us the most to achieve what we did.”

Margeaux Gupilan, a first-team all-league honoree, averaged 14.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 steals a game and Rishonda Napier, who also earned first-team all-league accolades, averaged 14.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals.

“It will be interesting to see what those two are going to do next year,” Camacho said. “I have had to keep them off the court because they already wanted to start getting ready for next year. I literally had to tell them to take it easy.”

Hawthorne ended her four-year career as a starter with another All-CIF accolade. She earned all-league first-team honors and averaged 8.7 rebounds, 8.1 points and 3.2 assists a game.

It is her second straight honor, as she was also a second-team All-CIF pick in 2008 after averaging 13.3 points to go along with 7.4 rebounds. 4.6 assists and 2.1 blocks.

“Elizabeth has done just so much for our program the last four years,” Camacho said. “She is just so versatile and she did whatever we asked of her.”

The four Guards players helped the team make history and helped set marks that will not easily be surpassed.

Last month, Bell-Jeff defeated Pinewood, 55-47, in the CIF State Basketball Division V Championships at Arco Arena in Sacramento. It was the first state title by any team — in any sport — in city history.

The win gave Bell-Jeff a 34-1 record, which set a new school record. In addition, the team ended the season on a 20-game winning streak.

The Guards also won the CIF Southern Section Division V-A championship against Santa Clara, 61-31. It was the program’s first crown in 12 years.

By Jeff Tully

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