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Coach: 'We just did not execute'

Bell-Jeff scores just one point in final 4:49 and makes mistakes down the stretch, as Orange Lutheran fights way back for win.

March 01, 2011|By Jeff Tully,
(Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

IRVINE — It was a game it could have won.

It was a game it probably should have won.

With just under five minutes remaining in its contest against Orange Lutheran High, the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls' basketball team took a five-point lead — its biggest lead of the night — in a CIF Southern Section semifinal Saturday.

The Guards looked in control, and appeared to be well in their way to qualifying for their third championship contest in four years.

However, the Bell-Jeff offense went cold and the team committed mistakes down the stretch in the final minutes of the Division III-A game, and the Lancers took advantage.

The Guards were unable to stave off the charge and Orange Lutheran battled back to win the game, 43-40, at Concordia University in Irvine.


At the conclusion of the game, many of the Bell-Jeff faithful weren't happy with some of the officiating calls made in the final minutes. But Guards' Coach Jaclyn Johnson said they can't blame the referees for the loss.

"The referees have nothing to do with it, that was all us," Johnson said. "We just did not execute. They just didn't do what I asked them to do, and that's what happened.

"It may have been nerves that got the best of them. Everybody wants to take over and do the best that they can for the team, but being so young they might not understand that might not be what's necessarily best for the team."

The Guards played well through the first three quarters against a tough Orange Lutheran (24-6) team. In the fourth quarter, Bell-Jeff appeared to have finally swung the momentum in its favor when Leslie Lopez-Wood nailed a three-pointer with 4:49 remaining to give the visitors a 39-34 advantage.

However, over the course of the final minutes of the contest, the Guards could only manage one point the rest of the way, that coming on a free throw by Jasmine Smith with 1:38 remaining and the Guards clinging to a one-point lead, 40-39.

The Lancers retook the lead, 41-40, with 41.2 seconds left when Krissy Karr sank two free throws.

After missing a shot on their next possession, the Guards got the ball back after an errant pass was intercepted by Smith. Smith got the ball and eyed teammate Rishonda Napier, who was sprinting toward the Lancers' basket. But Smith's pass went over Napier's head and out of bounds.

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