Guards overpower St. Anthony in League matchup

May 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sofia-PalaciosGood things seem to happen when Sofia Palacios steps into the batter’s box.
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CIF Softball Title Leads List Of Accomplishments!

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

cif-champs2013As was the case the previous two seasons, it was again the Bellarmine-Jefferson High softball team that stood out at the school during the year.

There was no doubt that the Guards were dominant in the Santa Cruz League this past season. Bell-Jeff captured its fourth straight league championship, going undefeated with an 8-0 record. The closest game the Guards experienced in league play was a 5-1 victory over St. Matthias.

That success carried over into the playoffs. The Guards capped their season June 1 by defeating Mary Star of the Sea, 8-4, in the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine, giving the program its first title.

The Guards were able to win a title after losing the Division VII championship game the previous two years.

It was the first championship at the school in four years across all sports. It was also only the third crown in school history (the previous two were in girls’ basketball).

monique_CIF-hsWith that kind of success, it’s not surprising that Bell-Jeff cleaned up when the All-Santa Cruz League awards were handed out. In fact, seven Guards earned all-league accolades.

Leading the way was senior shortstop Monique Landini, who was named the league’s player of the year. In addition, Landini was named the Division VI Player of the Year,

Landini batted .410 (41 for 100) for the Guards, drove in 25 runs, scored 31 runs and had six doubles, seven triples, four home runs and a .730 slugging percentage.

The senior carried her league success over into the playoffs. In the Division VI championship game, Landini belted two home runs to pace the Guards to victory.

The team also had a standout in junior pitcher Mia Acosta. She compiled a 16-3 record with 102 strikeouts and had a 1.68 earned-run average in 116 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .192 off her. Acosta was also accomplished at the plate, hitting .446 (37 for 83) with 38 RBI, 24 runs, six doubles, four triples and five home runs.

taryn-all-cifAnother tradition for Guards teams occurred in the fall, as the girls’ volleyball team put together another outstanding campaign behind senior outside hitter Taryn Nelson.

Nelson was selected to the All-CIF Southern Section Division IV-A first team and was named the Santa Cruz League Player of the Year.

Nelson was a driving force for a Bell-Jeff (17-10-1) team that captured its seventh consecutive Santa Cruz League championship and ran its league unbeaten streak to 52. In addition, the Guards advanced to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

A tough player to contain from the outside, Nelson was often double- and triple-blocked. Nevertheless, she still tallied 315 kills, 89 aces and 282 digs. She ended her tenure at Bell-Jeff with 840 career kills.

Also during the fall, the Bell-Jeff football team went 4-7 (2-2 in league). Bell-Jeff qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division Northeast playoffs, losing to No. 2 Rio Hondo Prep, 57-6. Rio Hondo Prep went on to win the division title, downing Mission Prep, 28-21.

josh_all-cifThe team had an outstanding player in senior running back Josh Martinez, who earned All-CIF first-team honors. Martinez had 237 carries for 1,813 yards (181.3 yards a game) and averaged 7.7 yards a carry. In addition, he tallied 26 rushing touchdowns. In total, Martinez chalked up nearly 2,100 total yards and had 29 touchdowns and 38 two-point conversions for a total of 250 points on the season.

During the winter season, it was the Guards’ boys’ basketball team that enjoyed a prosperous campaign. The squad was paced by junior Malcolm Regisford, who was an All-CIF second-team pick in Division V-AA.

Regisford, who earned All-Santa Fe League first-team honors, averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds a game.

Bell-Jeff (17-12) was runner-up in the Santa Cruz League and advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs, falling to talented Village Christian, 70-63.

The Guards also took part in a nonleague game at Staples Center against San Gabriel Academy. Bell-Jeff came away with a 64-51.victory.

malcolm_cifIn girls’ basketball, Bell-Jeff saw its string of five straight Santa Cruz League championships snapped. The Guards placed second in league, finished with a 12-9 record and fell in the first round of the Division IV-AA playoffs to St. Bernard, 66-32.

In the spring, the softball team was the lone Bell-Jeff squad to qualify for the playoffs.

Jeff Tully

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Landini Lifts Bell-Jeff Softball to CIF championship!

June 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

softball_cif-champsIRVINE — Bellarmine-Jefferson High softball player Monique Landini had felt the sting of losing two straight CIF Southern Read more

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Bell-Jeff Again To CIF Softball Title Game!

May 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

landini-2013SANTA PAULA: Guards get past Santa Paula, 5-1 in semifinal and will take part in their third straight championship contest. Read more

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Is A CIF Title In The Cards For Local Teams?

August 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

BURBANK – In two weeks, high school athletes will be back in action, as football, boys’ water polo, cross-country, girls’ volleyball and girls’ golf teams get ready to kick off the 2012-13 school year.

As is the case this time every year, anticipation for success is high, and optimism runs rampant among the coaches and athletes who compete at Burbank, Burroughs, Providence and Bellarmine-Jefferson highs.

It is a time to look forward with lofty aspirations and a time to set goals. Before the first athletes hit the courts, take to the pools and the fields, or hit the courses and tracks, anything is possible — including a winning season, and maybe even a Southern Section championship.

The last two seasons, four local teams have advanced to CIF championship contests. Bell-Jeff softball accomplished the feat in 2011 and 2012, the Providence boys’ basketball squad also made it to a title game in 2012 and the Burroughs boys’ volleyball team was a finalist in 2011. However, despite making it to a championship, none of the four squads was able to take home a title.

Winning CIF crowns has been a difficult task for the area schools the past few decades. In fact, only two championships have been won by area schools in 20 years, and both of them were captured by the Guards’ girls’ basketball program. A Bryan Camacho-coached squad took the Division V-A crown in 2009 — also winning the city’s only state team title in any sport — and Jaclyn Johnson sank a shot at the buzzer in 1997 to lift Bell-Jeff to a IV-A title.

However, those two titles are a rarity. In a span of 37 years — since a Bulldogs squad won a softball crown in 1975 — Burbank-area teams have captured four championships.

Coach Clyde Richards and his Burbank boys’ tennis team nailed down a Division III crown in 1993 for the school’s first title in eight years.

The Providence baseball team, led by future major-leaguerJeff Cirillo, won a Small Schools championship in 1986.

At least Burbank, Bell-Jeff and Providence have won titles. Poor Burroughs, a school that has been around since 1948, has never — that’s right, NEVER — won a CIF Southern Section team championship.

In 1955, a Bill Flora-coached Indians boys’ basketball team did make it to the Major Division championship game, losing to Alhambra, 46-35.

However, the past few decades, very few Indians teams have even made it to a final contest.

Following the Burroughs football team’s appearances in Northwestern Division championship games in 1981 and 1987 — it lost both games — just two other squads has been able to qualify. Along with the boys’ volleyball team two years ago, the Indians boys’ soccer team lost to Bell Gardens, 3-1, in a Division III final in 1994.

There are actually a number of teams that have a legitimate chance to win a CIF championship during the 2012-13 campaign.

At the top of the list is the Providence boys’ basketball team. Led by freshman sensation Marcus LoVett Jr., the Pioneers advanced to the Division V-A championship game last season, only to fall to Liberty League foe Holy Martyrs, 65-62.

Behind LoVett, who averaged 31.7 points a game, Providence (26-6) captured its first Liberty League championship in 12 years.

The Pioneers will have most of their key players back from last season, with the exception of standout Patrick Gonzalez, who graduated. If LoVett stays put — there have been rumors about his possible transfer to a number of schools — Providence should find itself back in the title game.

Since it has qualified for the Division VII championship contest the last two seasons, it would be a good bet to expect the Guards to make a return to their third straight title game. However, that task was made more difficult by a recent realignment by the CIF Office. Bell-Jeff will move up to Division VI, where the competition will be inherently more difficult.

But the Guards have their entire team returning, and a year’s experience under their belts could help the team compete in the higher division.

Another Bell-Jeff program — girls’ basketball — has advanced to at least the playoff quarterfinals for four straight seasons. However, with the graduation of All-CIF standouts Jasmine Smith and Rishonda Napier, and the addition of a new coach, it will likely be difficult for the Guards to win the IV-AA crown.

The Providence girls’ basketball team, which advanced to a CIF semifinal game for the first time in school history, also returns most of its key players. Although I wouldn’t count out any Pioneers team that is coached by Andrew Bencze, the Pioneers would have a definite uphill battle to capture a Division V-AA title.

Along with its finals appearance two years ago, the Burroughs boys’ volleyball squad also made the Division III semifinals in 2012. But the Indians lost some key players to graduation, and although the team should have a solid playoff run, nailing down a CIF crown would be a long shot.

Another long shot would be the Burbank girls’ basketball team, which got to the Division I-A semifinals in 2012. But that division is extremely tough, and another deep postseason run is unlikely

The most successful area team could be the Burbank boys’ cross-country squad. With their stars back, the Bulldogs could make another appearance in the State Meet, where they placed 11 last season. However, Burbank competes in ultra-tough Division I, where some of the best teams in the state reside. Winning a Division I championship would be a monumental accomplishment.

Despite a shaky track record, hopefully one, or more, area teams will break through and bring the area a coveted CIF championship this upcoming school year. More than a few squads definitely have a shot.

Jeff Tully

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Bell-Jeff Softball Leads Way During 2011-12 Campaign!

August 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

BURBANK – No other team has been as successful at Bellarmine-Jefferson High over the last two years as the school’s softball squad.

Over that span, the Guards have captured consecutive Santa Cruz League championships and made back-to-back appearances in the CIF Southern Section Division VII tile game.

Although Bell-Jeff fell in the title game to Pomona Catholic this past season, 1-0 — it also lost to the same team in 2011, 7-6 — the Guards still put together a wildly successful season. In addition, the Guards can take come comfort that they lost no seniors to graduation. On top of that, the team also fielded just two juniors last season.

Under first-year Coach Florencio Galindo, the Guards (23-6-2) did put together the most successful season in school history in terms of victories. The team also captured its third straight Santa Cruz League championship and outscored its opponents, 56-0, in four playoff victories.

The Guards were attempting to win the third CIF title in the school’s 68-year history. The Guards girls’ basketball team captured championships in 1997 and 2009.

It was also the third time in 37 years that a team from the city was able to make it to a softball championship. Burbank High won a 3-A crown in 1975, which serves as the area’s lone CIF softball title.

The team was paced by sophomore transfer Mia Acosta, who was at her best in the playoffs. The All-CIF Southern Section Division VII first-teamer and Santa Cruz League Player of the Year allowed just one run in the playoffs and none in league play, while posting a 13-3 overall record.

The team also received outstanding efforts from sophomore infielder Sofia Placios (.593 average, 36 runs batted in, 18 extra-base hits) and sophomore outfielder Jaylen Watson (.452, 31 RBI, 33 runs scored).

Bell-Jeff began the 2011-12 school year with a successful run by its girls’ volleyball team in the fall. Bell-Jeff (14-7-2) advanced to the CIF Division IV-A quarterfinals, losing to No. 1-seeded Hemet in a dogfight, 21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-14,15-8. The Guards also secured their sixth straight Santa Cruz League title.

Senior outside hitter Jocelyn Cervantes (Cal State Stanislaus) was a driving force for Bell-Jeff. Cervantes, who earned her third All-CIF Division IV-A accolade, her second straight league player-of-the-year honor and her fourth All-Area award, had to overcome the struggle of having to rely on a new setter last season.

During her four-year tenure, Bell-Jeff won four straight league titles, posted a 66-25-2 record, advanced to the playoff quarterfinals twice, the semifinals once and the Division IV-A championship in 2009, all under Coach Miguel Segura.

Also in the fall, Bell-Jeff cross-country runner Charles Salomon won the boys’ race at the Santa Fe League finals at Griffith Park. Salomon, who finished in 16 minutes 28 seconds on the three-mile course, helped pace the Guards to a second-place finish.

In the winter season, the Guards girls’ basketball team put together another fine season under former coach Jaclyn Johnson, who stepped aside following the season to take a position at Santa Monica College.

Bell-Jeff was paced by a pair of four-year standouts: Rishonda Napier (Southern Illinois University) and Jasmine Smith (San Jose State).

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.

Bell-Jeff (24-6) captured its fifth straight Santa Cruz League title. 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.

The Bell-Jeff boys’ basketball team led by senior Elijah Reed, (University of Puget Sound), also qualified for the playoffs after placing fourth in the Santa Fe League.

Another fine accomplishment came in the spring season in track and field. For the first time in school history, a relay team was able to qualify for the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Championships at Mt. San Antonio College.

Unfortunately for Bell-Jeff’s 400-meter relay foursome of London Webster, Jonathan Smith, Josh Martinez and Jalen Henry, it failed to finish in the Division IV final race.

Jeff Tully

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Acosta Ready For Her Shot!

June 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Burbank – Mia Acosta wasn’t part of Bell-Jeff’s run to the Southern Section Div. VII softball final last season, but she gained plenty of motivation from the Guards’ 7-6 loss to Pomona Catholic.

Acosta, a sophomore transfer from Birmingham, attended last year’s title game to support her friends on the Bell-Jeff roster, since they play offseason travel ball together with the So Cal Monsters.

With Acosta leading the way this year in the pitcher’s circle and at the plate, No. 2 Bell-Jeff (23-5-2) gets its rematch with top-seeded Pomona Catholic (25-7) at 3 p.m. today at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.

“It feels really amazing being in a championship game. I really want to win it all for my team,” Acosta said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to be out there with my team.”

Bell-Jeff has outscored its postseason opponents 56-0, with Acosta (13-2) and Amanda Maalouf (10-1) overpowering hitters — allowing eight hits and striking out 34 — in preparation to match up with Pomona Catholic’s Amber Padilla (23-7), who also hasn’t allowed a run in the playoffs, with the Pacers scoring 103 runs in their four postseason victories.

“I think we’re prepared to play against anybody,” Acosta said. “I kind of know how it feels playing in a big game like this having been in (14-under nationals in 2010). I don’t just want to do it for me, I want to do it for my team. It’s not just me, it’s all of us put together.”

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Guards Softball Suffer Perfect Game Defeat!

June 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

IRVINE — For two teams that scored runs in bushels and had yet to yield a run throughout the playoffs, one trend Read more

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