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Abby Graham and Sofia Bell can do it all for the Blues, who are looking at a run for the Chiles Center.



St. Mary's head coach Sheena Moore has quite the show each day in practice.

Not only is her St. Mary's Academy girls basketball team setting its sights on the final eight and the Chiles Center this season, she also gets a front row seat to what might be one of the best guard duos in the state in Abby Graham and Sofia Bell.

In practice, the senior Graham and junior Bell go at each other. And it pays off come game time when opponents get their full force.

Tuesday night, Dec. 14, against visiting Class 5A No. 2 Putnam was a great example as Graham went off for 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists, six steals and one block while Bell pitched in 13 points, seven boards and three blocks.

The Blues handed Putnam its first loss with a 68-61 win, improving St. Mary's to 2-2.

"They're something special," Moore said of Bell and Graham. "In practice, they go hard at one another, making each other better, and outside of practice, they put in the extra work to be better. Whether that's personal training or coming in early to get some shots, the stuff that people don't want to do. The stuff that sets the great players apart from regular and average players."

Graham did a little bit of everything against Putnam, posting eight points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds by halftime.

In the third quarter, Graham went to work offensively with 13 points -- including a couple ankle-breaking moves to get to the hoop -- and a made 3-pointer.

But what continues to stand out the most in Moore's eyes when it comes to Graham is her unselfishness.

Emma McDonald from Putnam had six made 3-pointers through the first three quarters, and Moore said Graham volunteered to take McDonald on defense to try and seal the win.PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - St. Mary's Academy guard Abby Graham (10) dribbles up the court against Putnam on Tuesday, Dec. 14 in the Blues' home gym. Graham did everything with 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists, six steals and one block in the 68-61 win.

The plan worked out well as St. Mary's turned an early 53-51 fourth quarter deficit into the 68-61 win.

"She's going to keep coming for you -- she has the heart of a lion," Moore said of Graham. "Little things like that, sacrificing her offensive game because she understood the importance of the moment and that (McDonald) must be stopped in order to win this game."

While Tuesday was Graham's night, her 6-foot-1 fellow guard in Bell is just as capable of having a night like her vaunted teammate.

Bell put up three blocks down low and continued to be a catalyst in the Blues' offense that was firing on all cylinders in the fourth quarter, with great ball movement and crisp passes to cutters.

Needless to say, when the two are clicking, the whole Blues team becomes a tough one to stop.

"I think the Three-Rivers League has seen them, some nights it's Sofia's night, some nights it's Abby's night," Moore said. "There's not much on the offensive end that they can't do."

As for the team as a whole, Moore said her focus for her players is to improve defensively, especially if they come up against some taller squads deeper into the playoffs.

"We know we have the offense, but we want to play a more collective game as a team and we can all play defense," Moore said. "That's about effort and staying together and communicating and having each other's back."PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - St. Mary's Academy guard Sofia Bell (3), directs the offense against Putnam on Tuesday, Dec. 14 in the Blues' home gym. Bell, a 6-foot-1 junior, is one of the leaders of a Blues squad looking to make a deep postseason run.

It all starts with the two guards leading the way for the Blues, though, and that foundation is strong for Moore and St. Mary's.

Up next is a matchup with Lebanon before playing in the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic after Christmas.

Sitting at 2-2, there's plenty of work left for St. Mary's to reach its goal, but Graham and Bell are sure to be putting in the work to get there.

Don't expect to see it all over Instagram, though.

"Everybody wants to put the highlights on Instagram or whatever, social media, and that's nice, no offense to that, that's extra work, too," Moore said. "But (Graham and Bell) make sure they do the extra stuff that's not always talked about or the most desirable to do.

"They challenge themselves every single time. They push each other in practice to make their teammates better and to make themselves better."


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