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Three squads open at home

Indians, Guards and Pioneers host first-round games, while Bulldogs have to hit the road.

February 15, 2011|By Jeff Tully,

BURBANK — It was a banner year as far as the CIF Southern Section playoffs are concerned for the four local girls' basketball teams.

All four programs — Burroughs, Burbank, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence highs — all made the playoffs. In addition, three of the squads — the Indians, Guards and Pioneers — all won or shared league championships.

Those three teams also received some respect, as Bell-Jeff (No. 4), Burroughs (No. 4) and Providence (No. 14) are all ranked in their respective divisions.


Burroughs was able to break a longstanding dry spell in league, as it captured the Pacific League championship, the program's first in 33 years. For Bell-Jeff, it won its fourth straight Santa Cruz League crown and Providence shared the Liberty League title, it's second in a row.

With first-round games beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, here is a look at the postseason matchups.

St. Bonaventure at Providence: The Pioneers (20-6) will take on Seraphs' team that is 7-17 and placed sixth in the Tri-Valley League.

However, his opponent's record and its league placement don't fool Pioneers Coach Andrew Bencze.

"They are a good team," Bencze said about the Division IV-AA opponent. "There were a few teams I didn't want to face in the first round of the playoffs, and St. Bonaventure was one of them. They are very physical and they have some very good players."

All season, Providence has prided itself on playing tough, lock-down defense. Bencze is hoping that defensive strength will pay off against St. Bonaventure.

"We have to play good defense," said Bencze, whose team is 1-1 against the Seraphs in two playoff matchups the past five years. "I know that we're going to be able to play good defense, it will just be a matter of us being able to shoot the ball well."

Providence has been paced by senior Rita Khatchadourian, but also have solid players in Kim Quijano, Ana Solis and Bea Benedicto.

La Habra at Bell-Jeff: The Guards have moved up in divisions, and will likely find the going tougher in their quest to navigate through Division III-A.

With a No. 4 seed, the division is rife with possible roadblocks, most notably No. 1 Orange Lutheran, No. 2 Bonita and No. 3 Bishop Amat.

Bell-Jeff (20-6) — which fell in the Division IVA semifinals last season against Windward, 61-57 — had the advantage of gaining valuable experience throughout the season playing bigger schools in nonleague and tournament games.

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