BURBANK — The Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys' basketball team succumbed to superior size, speed and overall talent in Thursday night's Santa Fe League title game and season finale with visiting St. Anthony.
The result was a 77-46 defeat to the Saints, who imposed their will on both ends of the court and received balanced scoring en route to winning another league championship.
The Guards will go into the playoffs after a 15-10 regular season and a 5-3 Santa Fe League record, including a 59-54 win over St. Anthony in the teams’ first meeting
Bell-Jeff Coach Julian Andrade hopes Thursday night’s loss will be a learning experience as postseason play begins next week.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Andrade said. “We had a good run, and we will take it from here. Hopefully we learn from this.”
Andrade’s squad was able to keep up with the bigger and faster Saints in a first quarter that saw two ties.
St. Anthony (14-8, 7-1) turned up the intensity in the second quarter, though, and outscored the Guards, 20-8 in the frame. Seniors Brian Wright, Kyle Benton and Eric Cooper Jr. combined to score 27 of the team’s 31 first-half points.
The Saints led by 15 at halftime and would sustain the double-digit lead for the entirety of the second half.
Bell-Jeff was outscored, 20-9, in the third quarter, as the Saints opened the game wide open with a 51-25 cushion after 24 minutes and left the fourth quarter for both teams’ respective bench.
St. Anthony’s trio led a balanced scoring attack with Cooper, Jr. leading the way with 20 points, complemented well by Wright’s 13, Benton’s 12 and Sammy Linn’s eight.
“They have a little bit of everything,” Andrade said. “They are big, quick and strong. They’re an excellent team and we can’t take anything away from them.”
The Guards were led by Giovanni Gabb’s eight points. Gabb, along with Will Morales, Jalen Henry, Carlos Mier, Ryan Meza, Marcus Nadal and Adam Guipilan, played their final regular season home game at Bell-Jeff in front of a capacity crowd.
The seven seniors and the rest of the Guards will look to carry over the momentum of a solid finish into the season, having won four straight before the loss to St. Anthony.