When it comes to assessing his team's talent, Bell-Jeff High girls basketball Coach Jim Couch holds nothing back.
"I've got a lot of respect for them," Couch said of his 9-8 team, which has lost six games by three points or less. "I feel that they're better than our boys junior varsity team and just a step or two below our boys varsity."
Although he may get an argument from some of the boys at the 550-student Catholic school, Couch's boast might not be too far-fetched--especially after the Guards' second consecutive rout, a 64-23 nonleague drubbing of Holy Family on Wednesday night at Bell-Jeff.
The win came a night after Bell-Jeff's 74-17 win over San Fernando Valley League-rival St. Genevieve.
Bell-Jeff took a 24-4 lead in the first quarter behind the hot shooting of Sara Dancs and Carlyn Couch, the coach's daughter. Dancs made her first four shots and Couch made 4 of her first 5 en route to 18 points. She added 12 rebounds.
The Guards also received strong play from point guard Hanh Tran, who finished with 5 steals and 18 points, including 7 of 8 free throws.
"They allowed us to bring the ball up all the time and go to Carlyn in the low post," Couch said. "When they double-teamed her, Hanh took pressure off with her outside shooting."
With the outcome all but determined after the Guards' big first quarter, Couch went to his bench and Holy Family responded with its best run of the night. The Gaels outscored Bell-Jeff, 11-5, in the second quarter, with the defense of guard Jessily Oripilla setting the tone for Holy Family (2-7). Oripilla finished with 7 steals, 7 points and 5 rebounds.
"I took my starters out in the second quarter because I didn't want to run up the score on them," Couch said. "If I left them in most of the game, we probably could have held them under 10 points and scored 80 ourselves."
The Bell-Jeff starters returned in the third quarter and outscored Holy Family, 24-6. Forward Andja Vucurevic made 3 of 5 shots in the quarter.