BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — No playoff team wants their season to end — especially this way.
With 6.7 seconds left, the Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys’ basketball team had its chance Wednesday night in a CIF Southern Section Division V-A first-round game.
Coach Julian Andrade called timeout with the Guards down by two points against visiting Chadwick. The team huddled around him as the coach drew up the play. He called senior forward Micah Shirley’s number.
“We were going to go ahead and end it with Micah shooting the ball,” Andrade said. “We were going to screen for him.”
Point guard Mario Marquez took the inbounds pass and dribbled at the top of the key. He looked for the set play, but it broke down. Time was running out and he had to do something. Marquez passed down low to guard Brandon White.
“We were hoping for the [original] play to go through,” White said. “I was supposed to set the screen, but I guess it didn’t work.”
So instead, White drove to the left side of the rim and put up a shot to tie it, as Chadwick’s 6-foot-6 center, Matthew Jamele, closed in on defense.
With the fate of the season hanging in the balance, White’s attempt bounced off the backboard and then the rim — no good.
“I rushed it,” he said. “I didn’t take my time.”
Chadwick escaped with a 58-56 CIF playoff win.
“It was a good look,” Andrade said. “I would live with that.”
Bell-Jeff (12-13), champions of the Santa Fe League, had control of the game through the first three quarters. The Guards led the Dolphins (11-9), 43-42, heading into the fourth quarter.
But Chadwick went on an 11-0 run, taking its first lead of the game, as Bell-Jeff fell behind, 57-48, with 2:30 to go.
“Our shots weren’t falling,” Andrade said. "[Against their] man-to-man, we were doing well. They switched over to a zone and that kind of hurt us.”
White scored five points and his teammate, Connor Linquist, added three points, during an 8-0 run by the Guards. In 48 seconds, Bell-Jeff cut the deficit to 57-56.
White and Linquist scored 14 points each to lead the Guards.
Chadwick forward Hank Trumbull made one of two free throws, putting the Dolphins up two points with 42 seconds left.
Bell-Jeff had two possessions to take the lead after Chadwick missed back-to-back one-and-one situations, but couldn’t convert a pair of three-point attempts.
Jamele scored a game-high 23 points and had 12 rebounds.
Trumbull scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Chadwick outrebounded Bell-Jeff, 32-17.
The Guards did play solid defense, forcing 15 turnovers by Chadwick. They used man-to-man defense that bothered the Dolphins. They trapped in spots, extended the defense full court and used a two-three zone in situations.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough.
Chadwick’s offensive game plan was to throw the ball into the low post to either Jamele or Trumbull, which most often resulted in scoring opportunities at point-blank range.
“Anybody with size is going to hurt us,” Andrade said. “We don’t have anybody bigger than 6-2.”
“We weren’t prepared for the big dude [Jamele],” White said. “They would throw the lob to him every time. We tried.”
Seniors Shirley and Marquez played in their final game for Bell-Jeff. Shirley had 10 points and four rebounds and Marquez finished with nine points, three steals and two rebounds.
“They fought to the end,” Andrade said.
“It’s pretty bad,” White said of the final loss. “I’m still proud of my team because we won the league. I think next year, we’ll have more unity and things will be much better. I just hope we stay together.”