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
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
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.
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
“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
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.
Bell-Jeff 5 2 6 12 -- 25
Country Day 17 18 10 16 -- 61
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