The Guards also won the CIF Southern Section Division V-A championship against Santa Clara, 61-31. It was the program’s first crown in 12 years.
Bell-Jeff lost its best player from a year ago, Shelley Gupilan (18.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals a game), to graduation. For the second straight year, she was named the Leader Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year. In addition, she was voted the Santa Cruz League Player of the Year, named the Southern Section Division V-A Player of the Year and honored as Division V State Player of the Year by CalHi Sports.
Even though the Guards lost Gupilan, and All-CIF standout Elizabeth Hawthorne, the team could actually be better than last season.
“The great thing about this team is the girls are hungry,” Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho said. “Their work ethic is just amazing and they are really putting in the hard work to get better.
“We don’t really talk about the past, or what we’ve already accomplished. We just try and stay focused on what we want to accomplish this season.”
Returning from the championship team are All-CIF players Marguaux Gupilan, a senior, guard (14.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 steals) and sophomore guard Rishonda Napier (14.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.6 steals.
Other returners are senior guard Julia Tani, sophomore guard Jasmine Smith, senior guard Sophia Chairez, junior guard Janelle Gabb and sophomore post player Averie-Alice Guzman.
“Those players have just gotten so much better,” Camacho said. “And they are all working so well together. They know what it’s like to be successful, they have the experience and they want to compete and get better.”
New to the team are junior guard Layana White (14 points and 3.2 steals), a transfer from Canyon, sophomore Marie Gomez, freshman guard Tiffany Kho, freshman guard Leslie Lopez-Wood and sophomore guard Kiah Jones, a transfer from Sierra Canyon.