WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Whether or not a rivalry grows between the Antelope Valley High and Bellarmine-Jefferson girls’ basketball teams remains to be seen, especially since the schools are no longer in the same division.
If one does develop, however, then it could be surmised the Antelopes will look for revenge, once again, after Bell-Jeff held on for a 43-36 victory in the Oaks Christian Shootout on Saturday afternoon.
The victory was the second in three games for Bell-Jeff (16-6) over Antelope Valley (12-7) in 11 months, as the Guards, sixth-ranked in Division IV-AA, eliminated the Antelopes, 77-73, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Division III-A playoffs.
Antelope Valley, ranked fifth in Division III-AA, exacted payback this season in a 53-39 victory on Nov. 30.
“This was our third time against them and it was fun again,” Bell-Jeff Coach Jaclyn Johnson said. “As either a player or coach, all you can ask for is to play good competition and that’s what Antelope Valley brings every time.”
The Antelopes trailed by 17 points early in the third and were down, 33-19, at the close of the same quarter.
Yet, Antelope Valley opened the fourth with a three-pointer from Crystal Brown, assisted by Angel Bailey, followed by a three-point play from Fresno State-bound guard Destini Price, who was fouled while converting a layup.
Price’s subsequent free throw brought Antelope Valley within 33-25 with 6:57 remaining.
While Bell-Jeff countered with a quick inside basket from San Jose State-signed Jasmine Smith, who was assisted by Rishonda Napier, the Antelopes pulled within 35-30 with 4:39 remaining.
The Antelopes’ surge proved unsustainable, though, as the Guards scored the next two buckets on an offensive put back from Smith and a scoop shot from senior forward Averie Guzman.
Smith later iced the game with a layup with 30 seconds left that pushed the Guards ahead, 43-34.
“Everyone gets involved. We don’t rely on one player or we wouldn’t be doing as [well] as we are,” said Guzman, who finished with eight points and two steals.
The Guards took a 23-13 advantage into the half thanks to team play.
Six Bell-Jeff players contributed at least one point in the first half, while only three Antelopes did the same.
Bell-Jeff committed five turnovers in the first quarter, but only one in the second, while Antelope Valley finished with 11 turnovers in the half.
Bell-Jeff led, 7-5, after one quarter, but surrendered its advantage to open the second on a three-pointer from Keiona Mathews.
The Guards, however, won the remainder of the quarter, 14-5, including scoring the last nine points after Antelope Valley led, 13-12, with 4:57 remaining.
Bell-Jeff responded with a two-footer from Guzman followed by a three-pointer from Napier to go up, 17-13.
Bell-Jeff closed the half with layups from Tiffany Ho and Smith and a free throw from Karina Moreno.
“Antelope Valley is a good team and I’m just glad we got the win this time,” said Napier, who was just named a McDonald’s All-American nominee.
Smith led Bell-Jeff with 13 points and Napier added 12 points.
Mathews paced all scorers with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Price scored 11 and Bailey chipped in nine.