Bell-Jeff Is New Kid On Title Block!

March 18, 2009 by  

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — Guards making their first appearance in state championship game, while Pinewood has won three state championships.Not many teams have the chance to make history.

Not many teams have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy.

Not many teams get to be the first.

The Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball squad has the opportunity to do something no other program in the history of Burbank high school sports has been able to accomplish — win a team state championship.

The Guards will get the opportunity to do just that in the CIF State Basketball Division V Championship game at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

“We are just so excited to be in this position,” Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho said. “The girls are excited and the whole school is abuzz about this game. It’s now just a matter of preparing and making all the arrangements.”

Winning a state championship, however, will likely take a concerted effort. The Guards (33-1) will be taking on Pinewood of Los Altos Hills in Santa Clara County, a team with a history of state crowns.

The Panthers (31-4), from the Central California Section, are the No. 2 seed from the Northern California Regional. Pinewood defeated No. 1-seeded Branson, 41-30, Saturday to win the regional championship.

“[Pinewood] not only won the [regional], but they beat a team that had won two straight state titles,” Camacho said.

Pinewood is no stranger to state-final competition. The team will be making its fourth appearance in the championship game, and it has captured three state titles (1999, 2005-06).

“This is the first time any team from our school has made it to the state championship,” Camacho said. “And although we’ve never been here before, I think our experience playing in big games against some tough teams this season will help us.”

The Panthers are led by senior Lindsay Nickel, who is the lone holdover from the team’s 2006 state championship team. Nickel, a 5-foot-11 center, averages 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game.

The team also has a solid player in 5-8 guard Hailie Eackles, who averages 11 points, 7.1 rebounds and two steals a game.

“[Pinewood] is a team that likes to push up the ball and they play very good pressure defense,” Camacho said. “They are also very well coached. As far as the team makeup, they are very similar to us.

“They are a very good team and it should be an exciting game.”

The Panthers come into the game on a 21-game winning streak. Their last loss came Jan. 9 against San Jose Valley Christian, 50-34.

The Guards enter the game on a 19-game winning streak. Their 33 wins ties a school record and their only loss of the season came Dec. 30 against Montclair Prep, 63-62.

The team earned a spot in the title game by defeating No. 3 View Park Prep, 61-49, in the Southern California Regional Saturday at Cal State Fullerton.

It was the 26th time this season the Guards have scored at least 60 points in a game. The team has also scored at least 70 points 13 times and 80 points twice.

While Bell-Jeff averages 66.4 points a game, Pinewood averages 55.4. On defense, the Guards surrender an average of 42.3 points a game and the Panthers give up 35.1.


Bell-Jeff is been led all year by 5-9 senior guard Shelley Gupilan. The reigning All-Area Player of the Year is averaging nearly 20 points in the postseason.

“We just want to take advantage of this opportunity and give it everything that we’ve got,” Camacho said. “Not many teams get the chance to accomplish something like this.”

Story by – Jeff Tully

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