Hoping To Maintain Success In Girls’ Basketball!

November 24, 2012 by  

BURBANK – Three teams are coming off fine and historic seasons and look to keep trend going this year. It was a wildly successful and historic 2011-12 girls’ basketball season for the four city teams.

Not only did Burroughs High, Burbank, Providence and Bellarmine-Jefferson all qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs, but the Pioneers and Guards also captured league championships. In addition, Providence, Bell-Jeff and Burbank all advanced to the playoff semifinals in their respective divisions.

With their share of returning players, the Bulldogs, Pioneers and Indians are looking to add to that success from last season. For Bell-Jeff, it is getting acclimated to a new coach and the team doesn’t have much in the way of returners.

Here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.

BELL-JEFF

Bell-Jeff (24-6, 8-0) enters the season with a new coach, Stan Delus, who took over for Jaclyn Johnson, who stepped down after leading the Guards for three seasons.

Delus comes to Bell-Jeff after coaching the Canyon Country Canyon girls’ team for five years. In 2009, Delus stepped down after the Cowboys had to forfeit 11 games because of CIF rules violations.

Last season, Bell-Jeff captured its fifth straight Santa Cruz League title. In the postseason, the No. 6 Guards advanced to the Division IV-AA semifinals, where they fell to No. 7 Gardena Serra, 71-54. The team also won a game in the Division IV state playoffs against Los Angeles Baptist, 70-60, before falling to St. Bernard, 65-51.

It was the Guards’ fifth straight appearance in the division semifinals, something no other team in city history has been able to accomplish.

Bell-Jeff was paced by a pair of four-year standouts: Rishonda Napier and Jasmine Smith. Napier, a McDonald’s All-American candidate, was named to the All-CIF Division IV-AA first-team for the third time. In addition, Napier was named the Santa Cruz League player of the year and made her fourth All-Area team. Napier averaged 21.7 points a game to go along with nearly three assists and three steals. Smith, who earned first-team all-league and All-Area accolades, averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds a game.

With the departure of Napier and Smith, and the decision of some players not to return to the team this season, it leaves the Guards with limited experience. The program is also suffering from low numbers this season.

“It’s been up and down since I took over and there have been some rough stretches at times,” Delus said. “We don’t have a lot of experience, with four returning for us. We really have low numbers this year and we won’t even be having a JV program because of that.

“But these girls are really working hard and they are giving their best, especially the two seniors.”

Those two returning seniors are 6-foot-2 center Mariah Bankhead and guard Tiffany Kho. The other two returners are junior Karina Moreno and sophomore MacKenzie Dowling.

“The girls know with our numbers that they are going to have to step up and contribute,” Delus said. “It’s a real challenging situation, but it’s something I know they can accomplish.”

Delus is hoping the Guards can benefit from newcomer Anastasia Tsybaeva, who is 6-5.

“Having two girls who are 6-2 and 6-5 in the middle for us is going to a big benefit,” Delus said.

The coach said the team’s biggest competition standing in the Guards’ way of winning a sixth consecutive league championship is St. Anthony, which has much of its team returning from last season’s second-place league squad.

Jeff Tully  (read full story here)

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