Posed with an earlier start Friday or playing on Saturday, second-seeded Bellarmine-Jefferson High's boys' basketball team chose the former in its CIF Southern Section Division V-A second-round game at Mesa Grande Academy.

What resulted was a bit of a lackluster first half for the Guards, but perhaps a needed wake-up call, as Bell-Jeff thumped Mesa Grande, 73-49, on Friday afternoon.

"To be honest, we didn't play very good. Second half, we came out and played a lot better," Guards Coach Julian Andrade said. "I gotta give [Mesa Grande] a lot of credit. They were undersized, but they played with a lot of grit.

"We had to really dig down deep and play some basketball."

Junior Abid Oses scored a team-high 32 points to pace the Guards (18-10), who took second in the Santa Fe League, while sophomore Isaac Etter scored 23.

Bell-Jeff led, 35-27, at halftime before growing the lead to 61-43 after the conclusion of the third period.

Andrade believes the brief scare could bode well for the Guards, especially coming in the second round rather than later on against opposition predicted to be stronger.

"I told the kids you're a second seed and you have a target on your back," Andrade said. "I think they definitely know now and they have a feeling if they don't come out to play they could be in trouble."

Mesa Grande (12-11), an Adventist school, had tip-off at 3 p.m., but the early start allowed Andrade to scout his team's next opponent, who he thought would be seventh-seeded Riverside Christian, but it was upset by 10th-seeded Capistrano Valley Christian.

Bell-Jeff will now make the long road trip to face the San Joaquin League at-large entrant.

"I think we match up pretty well," Andrade said. "I like our chances, I definitely do."