Bellarmine Bells win 5th CCS basketball championship in 6 years – by Nick Round
Photo by Ben Frattini and Carillon Yearbook
The Bellarmine Bells (19-9) may not have participated in the Open Division playoffs for CCS play this post-season with fellow WCAL rivals Mitty and Junipero Serra, but a 49-43 win over Santa Teresa (17-11) on Saturday awarded Bellarmine their second straight CCS Division One championship and 5th in the last 6 years. Senior leader Grant Vermeer, who is committed to the Naval Academy, led all scorers for the Bellarmine squad with 12 points. The Saints from Santa Teresa did a great job on defense limiting Vermeer to just two 3-point field goals; the three-ball is considered to be one of Vermeer’s strongest assets as a player.
After a low scoring first quarter and the score standing at a mere 7-5, the Bells opened up the offensive playbook in the second quarter while extending their lead to 10 points with the score at halftime fixed at 23-13. It was clear that the Bellarmine squad was the favorite to win this game, and most people in the gym predicted the Bells would run away with this comfortable lead during the final two quarters of play.
That was far from the case as Santa Teresa managed to cut the Bells lead to only one point during the 4th quarter with the score at 38-37. This was accomplished by way of a 12-1 run in the Saints favor over the first several minutes of the 4th quarter after the Bells had managed a 37-25 lead at the end of the third.
At 38-37 the Santa Teresa Saints had everything going in their favor: the momentum on the court, the crowd, and the underdog story fueled by the potential of a colossal breakdown by the Bells and upset victory by the Saints.
A victory on Saturday by Santa Teresa seemed inevitable after they had cut the Bells lead to just one point, but senior Danny Schatzman for the Bells destroyed the Saints hopes of a comeback with a clutch three-point field goal to extend the Bells lead to 41-37. With the crowd now in it for the Bells, other Bellarmine leaders stepped up offensively as well as defensively to extend the lead of 4 points to a lead of 9 points and the clock working in their favor.
After Bellarmine’s Kenneth Olugbode made four key free throws down the stretch to add to his seven-point performance on the day, the hopes of any comeback by Santa Teresa had already left the gym.
I spoke to Vermeer at the end of the game about the impact that this win has on this season and how the team plans on taking this momentum forward; “It’s always a great feeling to win CCS and I’m proud of my team but hopefully this is just the beginning. We’re really confident with how we’re playing and we’re ready to go for NorCals”.
The Bells finished the game with a 49-43 victory, with high hopes to extend this momentum towards the NorCal playoffs starting this upcoming Wednesday, March 6th.