BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — The players from the Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys' basketball team might think there wasn't much they could take away from Friday's game against Sylmar.'
However, their coach thinks otherwise.
In a third-place game of their own Bell-Jeff Holiday Classic, the Guards had trouble taking care of the ball, didn't shoot well in the first three quarters and were unable to stop the Spartans on offense. However, despite being down by as many as 21 points in the second half, Bell-Jeff battled back.
The Guards cut the lead to 10 points late in the fourth quarter and eventually lost by a dozen, 81-69.
Bell-Jeff Coach Julian Andrade said the fact that his team didn't fold after trailing by 21 points is something positive the Guards (4-7) can take away from the game.
"We were down by 20, and it could have probably been 40 if we just give up," said Andrade, whose squad lost in the semifinals Wednesday to Gardena, 56-50. "I think that could be a turning point in our season. Understanding that the way we played in the fourth, that's the way we've got to play. We are going to make mistakes, but we have to get up and fight back from those mistakes.
"We really have to match the intensity level of some of these other schools. Talent wise, I think we are talented enough; I just don't think mentally that we're able to give it our all when it comes to our intensity."
Sylmar (6-7) definitely had an advantage in the game when it came to outside shooting. While the Spartans made six three-pointers, the Guards were only able to convert one.
The turning point of the game came in the second quarter after the teams played evenly for the most part in the first quarter, as Sylmar enjoyed an 18-15 lead.
In the second, however, Bell-Jeff was outscored, 23-8, and was able to convert just two of nine shots from the field. The Guards were also plagued by eight turnovers.
"Those turnovers killed us," Andrade said. "They were also able to make their shots from the outside."
The poor second quarter by the Guards allowed the Spartans to take a 41-23 advantage at the half.
The Guards couldn't stop Sylmar's Travis Moore and Larry Williams, who had 16 points each.
Bell-Jeff only lost a little ground in the third quarter, as it was outscored, 18-16, and trailed, 59-39, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Guards received a boost in the second half by Adam Gupilan. Gupilan, who came off the bench, was scoreless in he first half but tallied all of his 14 points in the final two quarters.
Bell-Jeff was paced by Jalen Henry, who had 17 points. Teammate Elijah Reed added 16 points and Marcus Nadal had 10.
In the fourth quarter, the Guards were able to cut the lead to 10 with 51 seconds left on their lone three-pointer of the contest.