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Bell-Jeff advances to CIF final

Erik Boal

In order to return to the Long Beach Pyramid for the first time in

six years, the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball team had

to demonstrate many characteristics found in John Wooden’s Pyramid of

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Success.

The Guards’ conditioning and skill spoke for themselves in

Saturday night’s CIF Southern Section Division IVA semifinal game

against third-seeded L.A. Windward.

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But it was the poise of Jennae Peoples, the confidence of Julie

Van Dyke and the team spirit exhibited by the rest of Bryan

Camacho’s squad that added up to competitive greatness for

second-seeded Bell-Jeff, which held off a young Wildcat squad, 57-51,

at Brentwood School.

The victory propelled the Guards (23-4) into the division final

for the third time in program history and the first time since 1997,

when a Jaclyn Johnson-led squad defeated Cerritos Valley Christian,

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47-45, at the Pyramid for the school’s lone CIF championship in any

sport.

Bell-Jeff will meet No. 4-seed Westlake Village Oaks Christian

(21-6) -- which upset top-seed Brentwood, 68-64, on Saturday night at

Santa Monica Crossroads -- at a time to be determined Friday or

Saturday.

“I love just having this opportunity,” said Camacho, whose squad

rallied from a one-point deficit with 3:53 remaining to score nine

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of the game’s final 11 points.

“To see the kids stick together and believing in each other, it’s

just beautiful.”

Although the game itself wasn’t a thing of beauty -- with the

teams combining for 44 turnovers and 35.8% shooting (39 of 109) --

it was Bell-Jeff’s ability to remain composed down the stretch that

proved to be the difference against the Wildcats (21-3), who had

three starters foul out in a span of 2:44 in the fourth quarter.

Bell-Jeff’s knockout punch came from Van Dyke, who hit her fourth

three-pointer with 53 seconds left to put the Guards up by four.

“I felt really confident [Saturday],” said the senior guard, who

scored a game-high 19 points, including 11 in the second half.

“I came out and looked at the baskets, and I said, ‘this is going

to be my night.’ ”

Indeed it was, especially in the final four minutes, as Julie and

sister Kelly Van Dyke (eight points) combined to score the team’s

final nine points.

“She’s always been a good shooter, but she picked it up

[Saturday],” said Peoples, who finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds,

seven assists, six steals and two blocked shots.

Camille Napolitano added five points for the Guards. Junior Ali

Landes contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds for Windward.

*--*

BOX SCORE

*--*

*--*

Bell-Jeff 15 12 12 18 -- 57

Windward 11 12 17 11 -- 51

*--*

*--*

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON

J. Van Dyke 19, Peoples 15, 14 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals, K. Van Dyke 8, Coronado 6, Napolitano 5, Morgan 4, Hobbs 3 steals. * Three-pointers: J. Van Dyke 4, Coronado 2

L.A. WINDWARD

Landes 18 and 12 rebounds, Latimer 15 and 7 rebounds, Dunham 8, 4 assists and 4 steals, Conley 6, Brooks 2, Zickfeld 2, Zagelbaum 7 rebounds. * Three-pointers: Landes

*--*


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