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Guards hit end of road in loss

Erik Boal

For the members of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball

team, the outcome of their first appearance in the CIF Division IV

state playoffs in six years was unfortunately decided in the first

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six minutes.

The Guards knew there was little, if any, margin for error against

La Jolla Country Day in Tuesday night’s opening-round contest in the

Southern California Regional, and after missing their first eight

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shots, they found out just how minimal it was.

Country Day scored the game’s first 13 points and Bell-Jeff never

recovered as it fell to the host Torres, 61-25.

Led by junior Candice Wiggins’ 22 points, nine rebounds and five

steals, Country Day (25-4) -- which moved up to Division IV this

season after back-to-back San Diego Section and state titles in

Division V -- won its 17th straight game since a 65-63 loss to Long

Beach Poly and advanced to Thursday’s regional semifinals.

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On the other side, Bell-Jeff (23-6) -- which reached the regional

final in 1997, losing to eventual runner-up Playa Del Rey St.

Bernard, 58-43 -- lost consecutive games for the first time since

suffering setbacks to Mission Hills Alemany and La Canada on Dec. 28

and 30.

“They’re by far [the best team we’ve faced in my three years] and

it’s not even close,” said Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho, whose squad

shot just eight of 48 (16.7%) from the field, including stretches of

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eight, 11, and 16 straight misses.

“But it looked like we were just satisfied to be in the state

playoffs, and that’s the disappointing part. It’s really unfortunate,

because it seems like the kids might have taken this for granted.

“I love the kids, but it’s disappointing because we didn’t really

battle or compete like we’re capable of doing.”

Country Day -- winners of seven section titles and two state

championships since 1985 -- built its lead to 35-7 at halftime, as

Camacho’s squad made only two of 22 field-goal attempts and endured

scoreless droughts of 6:02 and 7:56.

Making matters worse, Bell-Jeff’s leading scorer Jennae Peoples --

who had 22 points and 14 rebounds in Saturday’s Division IVA final --

was held scoreless for the first 16 minutes and didn’t make her

first, and only field goal, until there was 4:39 left in the contest.

Peoples led the Guards with seven points and 10 rebounds before

her brilliant career came to a close with 2:33 remaining after she

collected her fifth foul.

It was a bittersweet ending for the 5-foot-9 guard, who was

shadowed by at least two defenders the entire contest.

“If our team isn’t quicker than our opponent, than we’re in

trouble,” said Camacho, whose squad endured another scoreless stretch

of 5:37 in the second half.

“Their team just had too many ball-handlers, too many penetrators

and above all that, they were disciplined. That’s what makes them a

great team. Plus, they’ve got a superstar who’s unselfish.”

Camille Napolitano had four points and nine rebounds, Idessa Reyes

added three points and four steals and Jessica Campos also had three

points for Bell-Jeff.

*--*

BOX SCORE

*--*

*--*

Bell-Jeff 5 2 6 12 -- 25

Country Day 17 18 10 16 -- 61

*--*

*--*

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON

Peoples 7 and 10 rebounds, Napolitano 4 and 9 rebounds, Campos 3, I. Reyes 3 and 4 steals, Bell 2, Corranado 2, T. Reyes 2, K. Van Dyke 2 and 3 steals. * Three-pointers: Campos, Peoples, I. Reyes

L.J. COUNTRY DAY

Wiggins 22, 9 rebounds and 5 steals, Cunningham 12, Rivera 12 and 8 rebounds, Fox-Griffin 8, Godinet 4, Booker 2, Settles 1 and 7 rebounds, Rentz 9 rebounds. * Three-pointers: Cunningham 2, Wiggins 2

*--*


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