Coming off a red-hot performance at the Panorama City St. Genevieve
Tournament, Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball Coach Bryan
Camacho was hoping his team would have enough endurance to play, and
win, its fourth game in as many days.
The Guards responded with an ice-cold effort from the field to
open Saturday’s annual cross-town clash with intracity rival
Providence, missing their first 18 shots.
But it seemed only appropriate that after enduring a stretch of 10
minutes 25 seconds without a field goal, that center Andrea Morgan
would rescue Bell-Jeff from its early struggles by scoring on a
rebound put-back inside.
Because the 6-foot-2 senior carried the Guards against a scrappy
Providence squad the rest of the way.
Morgan tallied 26 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots to
lead Bell-Jeff to a 50-35 nonleague victory against the Pioneers at
Keating Memorial Gymnasium.
“She was the x-factor [Saturday],” said Camacho of Morgan, who
missed her first six shots, but responded by making nine of her final
15 to win the much-anticipated battle of post players with
Providence’s 6-4 senior Megan Campbell (three points, nine rebounds
and two blocks).
“She always plays better against better competition because she
takes it personally.
“They were sagging off her, and she’s got a [nice] stroke, so I
kept telling her to shoot it. I told her that I didn’t care if she
missed a hundred, I wanted her to keep taking it, as long as they
kept sagging down low. She took advantage of that, and she definitely
came through in a big way.”
Said Morgan, who tallied all eight of her third-quarter points
during a 10-2 Bell-Jeff run to open the second half: “I have to give
a lot of credit to [Coach Camacho] because he gave me a lot of
confidence and he’s helped me so much.
“Even if we miss 18, we’re not worried about it. We just knew we
had to slow it down, because we were rushing it too much.”
Morgan continued to be roadblock on Providence’s road to a
potential comeback, as she tallied 10 fourth-quarter points,
including six in the final five minutes after the Pioneers (4-2)
closed to within, 37-33.
“We played one of our worst games of the year, and [we look at the
scoreboard] and we’re down by four,” said Pioneer Coach Andrew
Bencze, whose squad not only struggled from the field at the start --
making just one of its first 17 attempts -- but connected on just one
of 11 shots down the stretch, resulting in a 14-of-61 effort (22.9%).
“But Bell-Jeff caused us to play that way, and we didn’t defend
Morgan very well.”
In addition to having difficulties containing Morgan, Providence
also had trouble, during stretches, in dealing with Bell-Jeff’s (6-0)
pressure defense, which resulted in 20 turnovers.
“I was confident that we were the better team coming in, and I
thought we could win this game, but our youth kind of showed,” said
Bencze, who received eight points each from Annalyn Arboleda, Talar
Bouldoukian and Joyce Kattengil.
“In the end, turnovers are what killed us. We had that stretch in
the second quarter, and that hurt us a lot.”
Despite the teams combining to make one of 32 field-goal attempts
in the first quarter, the Pioneers managed to build an 11-6 lead with
4:41 left in the first half, but Bell-Jeff responded with a 12-point
run, with Julie Van Dyke -- who was selected most valuable player of
the St. Genevieve Tournament -- scoring all eight of her points in a
span of 2:04.
“I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter who’s getting the points,
as long as we’re getting the ‘W’,” said Camacho, who also received 10
rebounds and four steals from Van Dyke, seven points and five steals
from Kelly Hobbs, five points and five assists from Angie Coronado,
and four points from Idessa Reyes.
"[Even though we didn’t shoot well to start], our girls stuck with
it, and we got it to [Andrea] when we needed to.”