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Trio still alive in CIF

Girls' Basketball: Bell-Jeff, Providence and Burbank continue deep playoff runs.

February 24, 2012|BY JEFF TULLY,

A historic girls' basketball season is still going strong for a trio of area schools which have enjoyed deep runs in the CIF Southern Section postseason.

Burbank High, Bellarmine-Jefferson and Providence will all be in action with games tonight in their respective divisions. While the Guards and Pioneers take part in semifinal contests, the Bulldogs find themselves in a quarterfinal matchup.

Fresh from three straight home games to start the playoffs, the No. 3-three seeded Pioneers (25-4) will travel to Ojai to face No. 2 Villanova Prep (23-5) in a 7 p.m. Division IV-AA game.


This is the first time in program history that Providence has advanced to the semifinals.

Bell-Jeff (23-7) pulled off an upset in the quarterfinals to earn a spot in the final four. The No. 6 Guards will be on the road and will play against No. 7 Gardena Serra (25-3), which also enjoyed an upset win in the quarterfinals. The Division IV-AA game will be at 7.

Bell-Jeff is making its fifth straight appearance in the semifinals, something that has never been accomplished by any team in city history.

For No. 13 Burbank (18-11), it has earned a home game and will play at 5 in a Division I-A contest against unseeded Temecula Valley (15-15).

The quarterfinal appearance is the deepest a Burbank girls' team has advanced in the postseason

"It's awesome, and it's great to have three teams advance this far in the playoffs," Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. "It's certainly a thing of pride for city of Burbank. I'm just really excited to be a part of it. It's a great time for basketball in the city."

If the Guards — five-time Santa Cruz League champions — hope to advance to play in their third CIF championship in five years, they will likely need a big effort. But Bell-Jeff proved it is capable of a big effort when it upended No. 3 Chaminade, 68-54, in a quarterfinal game Wednesday on the road.

Bell-Jeff senior point Guard Rishonda Napier, a four-year starter who has led the team in scoring this season, said her group is never intimidated playing on the road.

"No matter where we play, or what floor we play on, we just want to play together," said Napier, an All-CIF and All-State standout. "We just have to play Bell-Jeff basketball."

Napier scored 34 points to lead the Guards over Chaminade. Teammate Jasmine Smith, a senior, added 17 points and 11 rebounds. The duo has continued to lead Bell-Jeff this season.

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