In her first season as coach of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ basketball team, Jaclyn Johnson is in the midst of a new experience with her Guards in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
But when it comes to deep playoff runs, Johnson knows the excitement and exuberance of the postseason. She was a member of a Bell-Jeff team that captured a Division IV-A championship in 1997. In fact, Johnson hit a shot at the buzzer to lift her team to a 47-45 victory against Cerritos Valley Christian.
Across town, Burroughs High Coach Vicky Oganyan never won a playoff game when she was a player for Glendale High.
“Oh, no,” Oganyan said. “At Glendale we were one and done.”
However, in her seven years as the Indians’ head coach, Oganyan’s teams have a fine track record of qualifying for the postseason.
Those differences have led both coaches to similar successes this season. Johnson and Oganyan not only guided their respective teams to league championships, but their groups are also both in the CIF quarterfinals.
Burroughs (25-5) will travel to Inglewood for a Division II-AA game at 7 p.m. today. Bell-Jeff (21-6) will host Antelope Valley at 7 p.m. today.
This is the fourth straight season that Bell-Jeff has advanced to the quarterfinals. In contrast, it is the first time in nine years that the Indians find themselves in the quarterfinals.
Both Oganyan and Johnson deserve a great deal of credit for piloting their teams to highly successful seasons, and getting the most out of their players. The league titles and fine playoff runs support that point.
Johnson, who is also the school’s athletic director, stepped into a tough situation this season. After popular Coach Bryan Camacho stepped down in June, Bell-Jeff took swift action to hire another coach. But for whatever reason, the new coach didn’t work out and he left — or was shown the door — depending who you talk to.
Johnson was the logical choice for the program’s coach, and she stepped in.
Often it’s tough for a team to adapt to a new coach and his or her way of doing things. But it appears the Guards haven’t missed a step, as they have been winning under Johnson. The coach has the luxury of having a team chalk full of talented athletes.
It’s just the opposite for Oganyan. The coach has been able to get the most out of a team that besides senior Lisha Elsenbach, doesn’t have a large group of superstar players
Oganyan has surrounded herself with a solid group of coaches that include former Burroughs’ boys’ Coach Art Sullivan and longtime assistant Bill Dunaway. Both assistants have helped previous Indians teams to deep playoff runs. Dunaway was an assistant on the 2002 girls’ team that advanced to the quarterfinals. Sullivan’s boys’ teams advanced to the quarterfinals in 2003 and ’07.
That kind of coaching experience has had to have helped the Indians.
Without a doubt, it’s going to be a challenge for both the Guards and Indians to advance to the semifinals in their respective divisions. But whatever results that today’s games might bring; the teams’ coaches have done bang-up jobs leading their programs to successful seasons.
I also have to give Oganyan props on the way she promotes her team. Throughout the summer and through the regular season, the coach has rarely missed calling in or e-mailing results from the Indians’ games. She obviously realizes that her players deserve publicity, and she does what she can to make that happen.
Her dedication to the coaching profession is admirable.
If it’s true that good things come to good people, than Bell-Jeff and Burroughs will come out on top of their games — because of their coaches.