First half hurts Hoover

BURBANK — On paper and on the court, the Hoover High girls’ basketball team was simply overmatched by Bellarmine-Jefferson when the two teams met in Burbank High Summer League competition on Wednesday.

The Guards, who won the CIF Southern Section Division V-A title last season before moving on to capture the Division V state crown, employed physical, aggressive defense and well-rounded offense to hand the Tornadoes a 65-10 loss.

Bellarmine-Jefferson got 14 points from Julia Tani and nine apiece from Rashonda Napier and Jasmine Smith, while Margeaux Gupilan and Leslie Lopez-Wood led the Guards defensively with six steals each.

“Without question, our philosophy is to put pressure on our opponents and to find out about their ball handling ability and their conditioning,” said Guards Coach Bryan Camacho, the reigning All-Area Girls’ Coach of the Year. “We’re just fortunate enough that our kids are pretty talented and real aggressive. It allows us to create a lot of offense off our defense.”

Bellarmine-Jefferson worked that tactic to perfection in the first half, forcing 25 Hoover turnovers, with 22 of those coming on Guards steals.

The Guards led, 14-1, before Hoover notched its first field goal at the 16:50 mark of the first half on a jump shot by Forever Moon, who led the Tornadoes with four points and six rebounds.

Bellarmine-Jefferson went up, 27-3, on back-to-back steals in the open court that led to uncontested layups and took a 30-3 lead on a three-point play on a putback by Averie-Alice Guzman with 10:30 left in the first half.

The Guards led, 44-5, at halftime.

“We’ve played them before and we know they’re good,” said second-year Hoover Coach Martik Ghookasian, whose team did not make the playoffs last season. “We keep talking about defense and covering the perimeter better and moving our feet better, but, really at his point, there’s not much I can say. It’s gonna be a process, it’s gonna take time.”

Hoover couldn’t do much to get back in the game in the second half, but did drastically limit its turnovers compared to the first-half debacle.

The Tornadoes had just seven second-half giveaways, six coming on steals, and forced the Guards to work a little harder in the half court set for their points rather than running back turnovers for easy buckets.

“At the end of the first half, we started going to a zone, working on different things instead of just pressuring,” Camacho said. “We’re trying to do the little things to get better, as far as positioning and boxing out and we still have a long ways to go.”

 GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at

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