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Teams have returning talent

All four programs get back their share of talented and experienced players from a season in which two area squads captured league titles.

December 01, 2010|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

BURBANK — It was a banner year for three of the four area high school girls' basketball programs last season.

While three teams — Burroughs, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence highs — qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs, two — the Guards and Pioneers — captured league champions.

Burbank was the lone team that failed to make the postseason.

Continued success and improvement for the locals looks like a possibility this season, as all four squads return their share of key players.

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There is one big change, however. Bell-Jeff Coach Bryan Camacho has moved on. After another coach took over and then subsequently stepped down, the school tabbed former Guards' standout and current athletic director Jaclyn Johnson to take over the program.

Camacho leaves big shoes to fill. In his eight years with the Guards' program, he accumulated a 183-50 record and had a .785 winning percentage. In addition, Bell-Jeff has won three straight Santa Cruz League titles and captured a state championship in 2009.

Here is a closer look at how the teams are coming together.

BELL-JEFF

Last season, along with the league crown, the Guards (25-7) advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IVA semifinals and won a game in the state playoffs.

Taking over the program has been a seamless transition, according to Johnson.

"This group is just awesome" said Johnson, who played at the University of Kansas, in the WNBA and in Europe. "I am fortunate to take over a group that is not only talented, but that is willing to learn. The girls have been kind of going with the flow."

Bell-Jeff did lose two key players, Margeaux Gupilan and Julia Tani, to graduation. Gupilan, an All-CIF selection and league player of the year, averaged 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists a game. Tani was a first-team all-league pick, averaging 7.2 points and 3.3 steals a game.

However, despite the departures, Bell-Jeff still has its share of firepower, including a talented trio in senior guard Layana White, junior point guard Rishonda Napier and junior forward Jasmine Smith.

White, an All-CIF honoree who has committed to the University of Arizona, averaged 12.6 points and 4.2 steals a game and. Smith averaged 12.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and Napier averaged 13.2 points and 3.3 steals.

Also returning are sophomore guards Tiffany Kho and Leslie Lopez-Wood, senior guard Janelle Gabb, junior forward Averie Guzman, junior guard Kiah Jones and junior forward Marilyn Flynn.

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