Harvard-Westlake wins Division II girls' basketball state championship

With her voice going hoarse in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon at Golden 1 Center in the Division II girls’ basketball state championship game, veteran coach Melissa Hearlihy of Harvard-Westlake sucked it up the way she always has in winning 839 games since she started coaching in 1985.

“Thank God it’s the last game of the year,” a smiling Hearlihy said after Harvard-Westlake defeated Colfax 60-45 to deliver the school’s second state title. “It’s only the second time ever for me to win my last game.”

Credit a trio of underclassmen for helping the Wolverines (19-18) overcome a 28-24 halftime deficit. Junior Deana Thompson was the true closer, scoring 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter. Freshman guard Angelina Habis finished with 19 points and sophomore Valentina Guerrero had 14.

Harvard-Westlake started the season 2-7.

“The early season was rough,” Thompson said. “We had injuries and were very young and had to learn how to play together.”

Thompson showed the way in the fourth quarter after making two of nine shots in the first half. She was six of eight in the second half.

“The nerves went away and I started to get comfortable,” she said. “I knew we had this.”

The game started with Harvard-Westlake being assessed a technical for having a wrong player number in the scorebook. Colfax (34-3) made a free throw and got the ball. After opening a 16-9 lead in the first quarter, Harvard-Westlake got into foul trouble and lost its lead. Hearlihy was able to get her team to settle down in the third quarter and take command.

“To win for coach Hearlihy means everything,” Habis said. “For us, when we weren’t winning, she kept us motivated.”

Now Hearlihy gets to rest her voice and carry a state championship trophy back to Studio City.

“It was a heck of a journey and we’ll talk about this for a long time,” she said.

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