BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — Almost everyone in the gym knew the Guards were most probably going to prevail — even their opponents.
After all, the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball team is ranked 40th in the state and is expected to repeat as Santa Cruz League champion — a title it has won three years running — while St. Genevieve is a relatively young program trying to learn the basics and endure the growing pains.
The only thing uncertain was the final score, which, of course, is why the teams squared off in the Santa Cruz League game.
Turns out the only upsetting aspect that took place Thursday night at Bell-Jeff lied with the St. Genevieve faithful, as the Guards easily took care of the Valiants, 102-15, ruffling a few feathers along the way.
“I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum,” St. Genevieve Coach Patrick Palmeter said. “I know when to kill clock and run a zone defense.”
Palmeter implied that the Guards (14-6, 3-0 in league) ran up the score, something that Guards Coach Jaclyn Johnson said wasn’t the case..
“We weren’t pressing or playing hard,” said Johnson, who is in her first season and also serves as the Bell-Jeff athletic director. “It just so happened that we were in a game that was heavily in our favor.”
Really, the contest was never in question. The Guards scored the first 11 points of the game and led, 38-1, after the first quarter and 62-4 at halftime.
Whether it was the Guards keeping up the intensity or just the vast inferiority of the Valiants, Bell-Jeff kept piling on the buckets, ultimately reaching the 100-point mark midway through the fourth quarter that resulted in “we want tacos” chants from the home crowd.
“I hope they’re happy they got their tacos,” said Palmeter in response to the fans.
The brutal honesty is that the Valiants are nowhere near the same level as the Guards, even though they are in the same league. St. Genevieve committed 17 turnovers in the first period alone and didn’t score a field goal until late in the second.
The Valiants showed a lot of pride in the second half by not backing down, rather scoring seven of their 15 in the third quarter, including a three-point play from center Janine Cadiz.
At the end of the day, the Guards played the Valiants similarly to how they will play all their league matches, given they have deep aspirations for this season.
“It’s not about our opponents, it’s all about us,” said Johnson, a former standout for Bell-Jeff who went on to play in the WNBA and in Europe. “We’re working on our defensive concepts and constantly preparing for the CIF and the playoffs.”
Bell-Jeff’s Janelle Gabb led the way with 20 points. Teammate Leslie Lopez-Wood added 19 points, Johnece Miller followed with 12 and Kiah Jones added 10.
Valiants guard Priscilla Alvarengo scored a team-high seven points.