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
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.
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,
47-45, at the Pyramid for the school’s lone CIF championship in any
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
“I love just having this opportunity,” said Camacho, whose squad
rallied from a one-point deficit with 3:53 remaining to score nine
of the game’s final 11 points.
“To see the kids stick together and believing in each other, it’s
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.
Bell-Jeff 15 12 12 18 -- 57
Windward 11 12 17 11 -- 51
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
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