BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — As leaders on the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls' basketball team, Rishonda Napier and Jasmine Smith have experienced the rigors and pressure of compiling deep runs in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The two were instrumental in leading the Guards to a state championship in 2009, as well as helping the team to the semifinals a year ago.
With Bell-Jeff trailing Antelope Valley on Wednesday in a Division III-A quarterfinal contest, the Guards needed Napier and Smith to step up. And step up they did.
Both juniors led the way with fine performances in the fourth quarter to fuel a torrid and gutsy comeback by the Guards in a 77-73 victory at Bell-Jeff.
"That's why they're our team captains," said first-year Bell-Jeff Coach Jaclyn Johnson about the talented pair. "They know we expect a great deal from them and they are always willing to step up when we need them."