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Jeff TullyL.A. Windward High girls’ basketball Coach...

Jeff Tully

L.A. Windward High girls’ basketball Coach Steve Smith admits he

doesn’t know a great deal about Bellarmine-Jefferson. But what little

he does know has left the coach a little apprehensive.


“I know the Sunshine League Bell-Jeff plays in is tougher than

[the Liberty] League],” Smith said. “I also know they are going to be

big, fast and they are very talented.

“I am just hoping we are going to be able to stay with them and


make a game out of it.”

Although Smith might be underestimating his team a little, the

Wildcats will get to know the Guards tonight. Windward will be the

home team when the squads clash at 7:30 in a CIF Southern Section

Division IV semifinal game at Brentwood High.

It is the first semifinal appearance for Bell-Jeff (22-4) since

1997, when Jaclyn Johnson helped lead the Guards to a CIF

championship -- the only title in any sport in school history.


Whereas Smith is likely collecting information about Bell-Jeff,

Guards’ Coach Bryan Camacho has done his homework on the Wildcats


“We have a couple of tapes on them and we know what to expect,”

Camacho said.

“They have a couple of good freshmen who can shoot and a junior

who plays pretty well in the post. We also know they play tight

defense with a good match-up zone.”


The game will be a rematch of last year’s second-round playoff

contest in which Windward defeated Bell-Jeff, 42-32.

The Guards earned a trip to the semifinals with a 69-34 trouncing

Wednesday against Downey Calvary Chapel. Jennae Peoples scored 19

points to lead the host Guards.

It’s no secret Peoples is Bell-Jeff’s main weapon. The senior

point guard came into the playoffs averaging 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game. She has been able to elevate her

game in the postseason, as she has scored 56 points a game and is

averaging 18.6 points a contest.

Bell-Jeff -- the No. 2 seed -- earned a trip to the postseason by

finishing second in the Sunshine League behind L.A. Marlborough.

Marlborough is still alive in the playoffs and is competing in the

IVAA semifinals.

Windward defeated Huntington Beach Brethren Christian, 56-33,

Wednesday in the quarterfinals.

The Wildcats -- the No. 3 seed -- are the Liberty League

champions. The team’s only two losses were nonleague setbacks to

Marlborough and Santa Monica St. Monica.

“I think we were lucky to get to some teams early in the season

and get some good wins,” Smith said.

Windward has talented players who are capable of stepping it up in

any given game. Junior Ali Landes -- who had 19 points and 11 rebounds in the win against host Brethren Christian -- is an athletic

player who is not shy about shooting from long range.

Two other threats are freshmen Erica Latimer and Hailey Dunham.