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Bell-Jeff basketball shines at Staples Center

Bell-Jeff Guards surge in second half to earn 64-51 win against San Gabriel Academy at the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.

December 05, 2012|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
  • Bell-Jeff took on San Gabriel Academy at the Staples Center, the storied home of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bell-Jeff took on San Gabriel Academy at the Staples Center,… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

LOS ANGELES — The members of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys' basketball team walked into Staples Center on Wednesday afternoon and took some time to enjoy the moment and marvel at the arena that is home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.

Many of the Guards still couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that they were about to play in the venue and they would have the opportunity to step on the same floor that has hosted an array of NBA greats.

Following the admiration session, however, the Guards tried not to concentrate on the grandeur of their surrounding and instead focus their efforts on the nonleague game at hand against an undefeated San Gabriel Academy team.

Despite possessing a length disadvantage and having two of its players foul out, Bell-Jeff used a sustained defensive effort and benefited from a solid showing in the second half to earn a 64-51 victory.

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The Guards players had varying reactions to playing at Staples Center, a venue in which San Gabriel Academy competed last year.

“It was nerve wracking, very nerve wracking when I first got on the floor,” Bell-Jeff senior Giovanni Gabb said. “It’s much different than what we’re used to, and it took some time getting used to it. I’ve never played in a place like this.”

Added senior Jalen Henry: “I was just in awe when I first saw the court. Just to be able to play a game at Staples Center is pretty overwhelming. The whole place is just breathtaking. I wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it is. And when I was shooting the ball if felt so different. But it was a great experience.”

Both the Guards (2-3) and the Eagles (4-1) showed some early jitters at the start of the game, as each committed five turnovers in the first quarter. However, as the game wore on, Bell-Jeff was able to overcome its turnover problems. The same couldn’t be said about San Gabriel.

Using a swarming pressure defense, the Guards continually hounded the Eagle ballhandlers, which translated in 27 turnovers in the game by San Gabriel.

“We asked our guys to give their maximum effort through the entire game,” Bell-Jeff Coach Julian Andrade said. “We wanted them to not only make the initial effort, but to come with the second and third efforts every time. I think we did a great job at that.

“That’s what really helped us with our defense. The guys brought the pressure and they gave the effort when they needed to.”

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