The Guards, who placed second in the Santa Fe League, finished at 19-6. The Coyotes, who will advance to the semifinal round on Friday, went to 24-2.
The Guards stayed with the Coyotes, who won the Condor League crown, nearing the midway point of the fourth quarter. Bell-Jeff cut the lead to 55-51 with 5:12 left, but Besant Hill closed out the contest on a 21-5 run.
Bell-Jeff pulled to within 55-51 on a steal and layup by junior guard Chris Issakhanian. The tired Guards, who had to travel almost 160 miles roundtrip, then saw the Coyotes seize control the rest of the way.
“We kept pushing in trying to come back,” said Bell-Jeff junior guard Kevin Yuenyongsakul, who finished with a team-high 21 points. “We were tired, it was a long trip and we had too many turnovers.”
The Guards had difficulty stopping senior forwards Ivan Matip and Yannick Atanga. Matip finished with a game-high 27 points and Atanga had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
“Those two guys were very strong because they were able to crash the boards,” said Yuenyongsakul, who had five three-pointers.
Matip scored on a finger-roll to give the Coyotes, who won the Division VI-A championships last season, a 59-51 lead with 4:01 left. Atanga extended the lead to 65-54 on a layup with 2:02 remaining.
“That’s a great team that should’ve been ranked higher than seventh,” said Besant Hill Coach Randy Bertin, whose team led, 38-28, at halftime.
Yuenyongsakul made his third three in the first quarter to give the Guards a 14-6 lead with 2:02 left and capping a 9-0 run.
The Guards received nine points from freshman Aaron Cosme and eight points, four assists and four steals from Issakhanian.