Guards get the matchup they wanted

Jeff Tully

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH -- The Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls'

basketball team and Coach Bryan Camacho have had video tapes of Van Nuys

Montclair Prep since December, just in case the Guards would face the

Mounties in the playoffs.

Those tapes may just come in handy, as Bell-Jeff will take on host

Montclair Prep today at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round CIF Southern Section

Division VAA game.

The Guards earned the right to take on the Mounties Thursday by

winning their wild-card game, 54-34, on the road at Riverside Woodcrest

Christian High.

Bell-Jeff (15-11) will get a chance to avenge last year's 60-50

wild-card playoff loss to the Mounties.

"This is the game we have been looking for all year," Camacho said.

"We knew that if we were going to do well in the playoffs we would have

to go through Montclair Prep.

"Thay have a very good team and we will probably have to play the role

of the underdog. But are going to go in there and play hard, and

hopefully things will come out our way."

Montclair Prep (22-0) enters the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the

division. It is led by 5-foot-11 sophomore forward Eshaya Murphy, who

averages 29 points and 17 rebounds a game. Teammate Jasmine Wesley -- 6-1

senior forward/center -- averages 14 points and 10 rebounds.

In last year's playoff win over Bell-Jeff, Murphy poured in 43 points.

"We know that Murphy is a good player," Camacho said. "But we are

going to make her work for every shot she gets. And we also have to play

good defense on the other players as well."

The Guards started the playoffs a little sluggish against Woodcrest

Christian (14-12), as they held just a 20-16 lead at the half.

But in the second half, Bell-Jeff went from a trapping zone to a

straight-up man-to-man defense and that seemed to do the trick. The

defense pressure caused tounovers and gave the Guards a chance to

showcase their quickness and speed.

In the third quarter, Bell-Jeff's gameplan began to really take root,

as it outscored the Royals, 18-7.

The Guards also delivered a fine outside offensive game to compliment

its potent inside game that features senior Center Ana Coronado. While

freshman Julie Van Dyke blasted from the outside, scoring 17 points,

including five three-pointers, Coronado worked the post, netting 14

points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks.

"These girls have really come together as a team," Camacho said. "It

is really fun to watch them play. We just hope we will be able to play a

little longer."

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