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Group of players recognized

Girls' basketball: Athletes from Burbank, Bell-Jeff and Providence named All-CIF in respective divisions.

March 19, 2012|BY JEFF TULLY

Three area girls' basketball teams enjoyed historic treks through the CIF Southern Section playoffs this past season.

Burbank High and Providence both advanced past the quarterfinals for the first time and also earned their first trips to state competition.

Bellarmine-Jefferson made its fifth straight appearance in the division semifinals, something no other team in city history has been able to accomplish.

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With the historic accomplishments came unparalleled recognition, as all three programs had players earn All-CIF accolades in their respective divisions.

Earning the award for the Bulldogs was senior Damarie Gonzalez, a four-year varsity player who earned Division I-A first-team honors.

The Pioneers had three players honored. Senior Catherine Saint was a first-team selection in Division V-AA, while junior Bea Benedicto and freshman Katia Dabbaghian were second-team picks.

The Guards had a familiar face on the Division IV-AA first-team list. Senior Rishonda Napier, a McDonald's All-American candidate, made her third appearance on the first team.

Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said it is rewarding to see his players receive the award among their peers.

"It was an appreciation of the kind of season that we had," he said. "It's nice to know that the other coaches in the division thought highly of the players on our team this season. It's really nice for our program and it's great for the players as well."

Burbank Coach Bruce Breeden said he can't remember the last time a Bulldogs player earned All-CIF honors. But as much as Gonzalez meant to the team his season, he said the senior is definitely deserving.

"For her to get All-CIF is awesome," Breeden said. "I figured with as competitive as our division was, it would probably be a long shot for her to make the list. But to make it on the first team is really something."

Along with averaging 12.2 points a game, Gonzalez also averaged 4.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.4 steals a game.

"She is just such a wonderful girl," Breeden said. "Just to see the progress she's made the past four years is incredible. She meant a lot to this program, and she was just a steadying force for us. We will definitely miss her."

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