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Ending summer with a tourney tradition

Jeff Tully

While most high school players have packed it in for the summer, a

group of girls’ basketball players still has a challenging task at

hand.

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For the 19th straight year, teams will get a chance to end their

season at the annual Bell-Jeff Summer Hoop Finale, which begins today

at Bellarmine-Jefferson High.

The 16-team event concludes Saturday.

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“This is a great tournament to end the summer,” said Bell-Jeff

Coach Bryan Camacho, who is also the event’s coordinator.

“We always have had good teams and some very good players taking

part over the years. We are looking forward to the competition.”

Along with the host Guards, Providence, Crescenta Valley and

Glendale will also be among the schools taking part.

The Hoop Finale is unique because it brings together schools of

all sizes, unlike some tournaments which often feature just small

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schools, or others which invite only premier teams.

For example, in today’s opening round, Providence will take on CV

at 4 p.m. While Providence is a school with an enrollment of just

564, CV is a much larger school at 2,400.

Bell-Jeff -- with an enrollment of 365 -- could find itself going

up against Glendale, which has 3,500 students.

Camacho said he doesn’t mind the challenge of going against larger

schools.

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“I think it is good for a team to get banged up and a little beat

up against some of the bigger schools,” he said. “It provides a good

challenge and it gets you used to what you might face during the

season.

“It is also a good test for your team and it can show how the

players respond to different situations.”

Camacho’s team opens the tournament at 8 p.m. against Ventura St.

Bonaventure.

“This is not going to be an easy tournament for any of us,”

Camacho said.

“For us, we are just hoping to work some things out and gain some

experience.”

Returning to the event is Oxnard, which won the 2002 championship.

In last year’s title game, Oxnard hit a shot at the buzzer to defeat

Chino Hills Ayala, 30-29.

The Guards won the tourney consolation championship, defeating

Littlerock, 31-22.

One of the more interesting matchups for the Guards could feature

a familiar foe -- Westlake Village Oaks Christian. Bell-Jeff lost to

the Lions, 53-44, in March in the CIF Southern Section Division IVA

championship game at the Long Beach Pyramid.

Over the years, the event has been able to attract some very

talented basketball teams. Past tourney winners include Pasadena

Muir, Inglewood Morningside, Lynwood and CV.

Although the Guards have won the consolation championship four

times, they have never captured their own tournament title.

Some past outstanding players who have participated are Lisa

Leslie, Michelle Greco, Jaclyn Johnson and Marion Jones.

“I think we have put together a good tradition over the years,”

Camacho said. “And we are still going strong.”


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