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Looking to build on success

Although all four programs lost key players from last year, they all have their share of talented returners.

November 18, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(File photo )

It was a successful 2010-11 girls' basketball season for the four local programs.

While Burroughs High and Bellarmine-Jefferson won championships in their respective leagues, Providence shared a league title and Burbank was able to advance to the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

However, all four of the teams lost their share of talented players from last season, with the Bulldogs taking the lightest hit after graduating three seniors. At Burroughs, the Indians lost nine seniors to graduation, the Guards had two key athletes transfer and the Pioneers lost three significant contributors to graduation, including an All-CIF Southern Section player.

With the season set to begin next week, here is a closer look at how the teams are shaping up.

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON

Last season, the Guards (23-8) won a Santa Cruz League title and advanced to the Division III-A semifinals, losing to Orange Lutheran, 43-40. The team also made it to the second round of the state playoffs. The league crown was the program's fourth straight.

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Gone from that team are guard Leslie Lopez-Wood and forward Johnese Miller, who have transferred.

"Those kids are doing what they have to do and what's best for them," Bell-Jeff Coach Jaclyn Johnson said. "But that doesn't have any affect on what we're doing here. We don't think about them and we don't talk about them."

Despite the departures, the squad still has its share of returning talent, and despite having only eight players on the roster, Johnson said she expects nothing less than another successful season.

"Being a small team, it's a great opportunity for everyone who is here to contribute," said Johnson, a former Bel-Jeff standout who went on to success at the University of Kansas and in the WNBA. "I have a strong group of seniors and I don't think we're going to be lacking in experience, we're just lacking in numbers."

"We have kids who want to play for Bell-Jeff, and we're going to get stronger as the season goes on."

Returning to form the cornerstone of the team is a pair of All-CIF Division III-A first-teamers. Senior guard Rishonda Napier and senior forward Jasmine Smith are the latest in a string of Guards who have won the award the past few seasons.

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