Bell-Jeff Gains Revenge, Reaches Quarterfinals!

July 21, 2009 by  

It took the Bell-Jeff of Burbank girls’ basketball team a little more than six years, a trip to San Diego and two extra minutes, but the Guards finally gained a measure of revenge on La Jolla CountryDay.

After losing to a Candice Wiggins-led Country Day team in the opening round of the Div. IV state playoffs in 2003, Bell-Jeff had to patiently wait for a rematch against the San Diego Section juggernaut, but it was more than worth it Friday for the defending Div.V state champs.

Julia Tani’s 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in overtime lifted Bell-Jeff to a 43-42 victory over Country Day at UC San Diego in the third round of the Division 3A bracket at the 23rd annual San Diego Classic, the nation’s largest girls’ high school basketball tourney.

“I tried to put that game out of my mind until (Friday),” Bell-Jeff coach Bryan Camacho said. “Country Day is a great program and they have great tradition. This is where we want to be. This is the kind of tournament we want to be a part of. We’re very proud of (this victory).”

Bell-Jeff, whose two losses this summer have come against Harvard-Westlake of Studio City and Mater Dei of Santa Ana, rallied from a six-point deficit with three minutes left in regulation to tie the score 37-37 on a layup by Rishonda Napier with 1:07 remaining. Napier had a look at a straightaway 3-pointer as the regulation buzzer sounded, but her shot hit off the backboard and rim, forcing the two-minute extra period.

Country Day built a pair of three-point leads in overtime, but Tani scored five of her nine points in the final 1:22, including the uncontested 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Guards their first lead since the 5:05 mark of the first half.

“I honestly didn’t know how much time was left. I just heard (Coach Camacho) saying `Shoot the 3, shoot the 3,’ so I did,” Tani said. “That was my first (winning shot) and it felt so good.”

Leslie Lopez-Wood, an incoming freshman, led Bell-Jeff – which plays at 11a.m. today against Brea-Olinda or Oak Ridge in the quarterfinals – with 13points, including three 3-pointers.

Boal Chatter cont…

After losing Saturday to Brea-Olinda and Villa Park in the Division 3A draw, Bell-Jeff of Burbank concluded its tournament with a 40-29 victory over Long Beach Poly in the seventh-place game.

Rishonda Napier led the Guards with 14 points, with Margeaux Gupilan and Leslie Lopez-Wood – who rebounded from suffering a head injury against Villa Park – each adding eight points.

Bell-Jeff belongs with the bestBell-Jeff of Burbank and Brea Olinda both captured state girls’basketball titles in March.

For the Guards, their Div. V championship was the first won by any team in school history. For Brea, it was the program’s state-leading ninth crown, to go along with 16Southern Section titles.

Although the teams both celebrated at Arco Arena, Brea once again found itself in the spotlight and Bell-Jeff’s performance appeared to be more of a footnote to the success of the championship teams in higher divisions.

After their performance this summer, especially this weekend at the 23rd annual San Diego Classic, the Guards are no longer playing second-fiddle to the state’s perennial powers.

After knocking off La Jolla Country Day 43-42 in overtime Friday, Bell-Jeff suffered a 39-30 setback to Div. II state champ Brea in the 3A Division quarterfinals Saturday at UCSan Diego, just its third setback of the summer, along with losses to Mater Dei of Santa Ana and Harvard-Westlake of Studio City.

“We want to make a name for ourselves. It used to be that people would pass by us and look the other way, but not anymore,” senior guard Margeaux Gupilan said. “We want to push forward and continue to (go) higher and make everybody know who we are.”

Perhaps the biggest compliment for Bell-Jeff coach Bryan Camacho came after the loss to Brea, when Ladycats coach Jeff Sink invited the Guards to compete in their annual December tournament, considered among the best in the state, if not the country.

“We’re very blessed to be in this position,” Camacho said. “We respect everybody we play, but we don’t fear any of them. That’s why I enjoy coaching this team.”

Erik Boal – Daily News Chatter –

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