SUN VALLEY —The hole was too deep, the hill was too steep.
The Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys’ basketball team’s rally from 14 points down against Village Christian came up short on Tuesday night. The eighth-seeded Guards fell to the top-seeded Crusaders, 70-63, on the road in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA playoffs.
“Turnovers killed us,” Bell-Jeff coach Julian Andrade said. “We made some good, defensive stops, and we couldn’t go ahead and get a good possession off the defensive stops. If you don’t take care of the basketball, you’re going to be on the losing side of it.”
The Guards trailed, 34-33, with just under six minutes remaining in the third quarter. That’s when the Crusaders went on a 13-0 run over a three-minute span to take a commanding 47-33 lead.
“We weren’t getting back in transition,” Bell-Jeff’s Malcolm Regisford said. “They were getting a lot of easy shots off of fast breaks.”
The Guards attempted a rally to try and lift themselves back into the game. After a Regisford bucket with just under five minutes left in the game, Bell-Jeff faced a manageable 55-49 deficit.
They’d wouldn’t get any closer.
Andrade stressed the impact of the turnovers, as the Guards struggled to break Village Christian’s defensive press.
“There defense bothered us a little bit; we couldn’t get into our sets,” Andrade said. “I think again, if we don’t take care of the basketball, we’re not going to be able to get good possessions.”
The game was tight early on as Village Christian clung to a 14-12 lead after the first period. The Crusaders scored six unanswered points in the first minute of the second frame to expand that advantage to 20-12.
Bell-Jeff battled back, however, and after a three-pointer and a lay-in from Abid Oses, the Guards cut the deficit to 27-24. Village Christian took a 32-26 lead into halftime before pulling away in the third.
Despite the loss, Bell-Jeff dominated down low. Oses finished with 23 points and nine rebounds and Regisford had 19 points and 14 boards.
“We did a good job,” Andrade said “Those two guys, they really controlled the paint. They did a good job there.”
Bryan Alberts paced Village Christian with 20 points.
Bell-Jeff finishes the season at 17-12, and with Oses (sophomore) and Regisford (junior) returning next year, the future looks promising for the Guards.
“It’s a great season,” Regisford said. “This is the farthest Bell-Jeff has been in a while.”