Harvard-Westlake girls basketball wins first CIF State title since 2010 after grueling journey

Harvard-Westlake celebrates after defeating Colfax 60-46 to win a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

SACRAMENTO — Harvard-Westlake girls basketball has steadily built toward a CIF State championship.

The Wolverines beat Colfax 60-45 in the Division II final at Golden 1 Center on Saturday to win their first state title since 2010.

Harvard-Westlake came together on the court but also came together at 10 p.m. the night before the game when players showed up at coach Melissa Hearlihy’s hotel door with makeup, ready to apply fresh eyelash sets. Bonding and visualizing winning helped the Wolverines succeed.

“In the end, (it was) just wanting each other to succeed and just being able to celebrate afterwards,” senior guard Jamie Yue said. “We have so much fun when everyone comes together and is able to contribute to one final thing. We were super excited to celebrate afterwards.”

Head coach Melissa Hearlihy holds the trophy with her team after Harvard-Westlake defeated Colfax 60-46 to win a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake celebrates after defeating Colfax 60-46 to win a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Oyinkan Iriafen #21 of Harvard-Westlake fights for the loose ball against Juliette James #55 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Oyinkan Iriafen #21 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Colfax in the second half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Oyinkan Iriafen #21 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Colfax in the second half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Angelina Habis #1 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Madison Mcdonald #2 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Madalyn Sigrist #11 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Angelina Habis #1 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Jade Biittner #2 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Deana Thompson #11 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Colfax in the second half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Madison Mcdonald #2 of Harvard-Westlake shoots over Madalyn Sigrist #11 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Angelina Habis #1 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Jamie Yue #3 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Melissa Hearlihy holds the trophy with her team after Harvard-Westlake defeated Colfax 60-46 to win a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake bench looks on against Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, rMarch 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Melissa Hearlihy of Harvard-Westlake reacts against Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Melissa Hearlihy holds the trophy after Harvard-Westlake defeated Colfax 60-46 to win a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Deana Thompson #11 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Colfax in the second half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Jamie Yue #3 of Harvard-Westlake drives to the basket against Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Angelina Habis #1 of Harvard-Westlake drives past Jade Biittner #2 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Oyinkan Iriafen #21 of Harvard-Westlake reaches for the loose ball against Juliette James #55 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Angelina Habis #1 of Harvard-Westlake scrambles for the loose ball against Jade Biittner #2 of Colfax in the first half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Oyinkan Iriafen #21 of Harvard-Westlake reaches for the rebound against Jade Biittner #2 of Colfax in the second half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Deana Thompson #11 of Harvard-Westlake shoots against Colfax in the second half of a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Harvard-Westlake celebrates after defeating Colfax 60-46 to win a CIF State Division II girls basketball championship game at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Saturday, March 9, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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Yue scored nine points in the game. Angela Habis scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Deana Thompson scored 18 points and had an additional four assists and four steals, while Valentina Guerrero came off the bench to record a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The pinnacle of the season came after multiple injuries shuffled the lineups and kept the Wolverines (19-18) from establishing consistency on the court.

Hearlihy told reporters that her team had tied the record for most losses to make it to the state championships.

It wasn’t ideal, but Harvard-Westlake was able to grow from it.

“It’s just been one thing after another,” Hearlihy said. “What I think is a positive in that is that other people stepped up and other people got better.”

Harvard-Westlake found its rhythm late in the first quarter. Guerrero hit a layup and Deanna Thompson made back-to-back layups shortly after to get the Wolverines a 14-9 advantage.

Thompson was steadfast for the Wolverines all through the game, sure-footed and dribbling hard on her way to the basket.

“It’s just training and knowing that I can do these moves and and calming myself down during the game,” Thompson said of her play. “Just reacting to the defense helps me on the court.”

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Harvard-Westlake girls basketball won a CIF State championship full story: https://www.dailynews.com/2024/03/09/harvard-westlake-girls-basketball-wins-first-cif-state-title-since-2010-after-grueling-journey/ #golden1center #girlpower #womensbasketball #girlsbasketball #championships #highschoolbasketball #basketball #sports #reporter #journalist #girlpower #studiocity

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Yue went in for a layup to give the Wolverines a 16-9 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Colfax bounced back in the next frame and steadily built itself up through quick shots. Harvard-Westlake ate up the clock and set up plays that showed off their passing abilities, but not enough shots fell.

Angelina Habis tied the game at 24-all by making two free throws and also scored eight points in the opening half, but Colfax was able to go into halftime ahead 28-24.

Harvard-Westlake came out of the break and sought to show its abilities from range. The Wolverines made three 3-pointers in the first half of the third quarter, two from Habis and one from Yue, to take a 36-32 lead.

Yue was limited in the second quarter after getting her third foul but made a noticeable difference when she re-entered the game. Hearlihy called her the “head of our snake.”

“She’s the one that is our driving force both offensively and defensively. Great ball pressure,” the coach said.

Thompson and Guerrero had major contributions on offense and defense in the fourth quarter and combined for a 6-0 scoring run.

The Wolverines also switched to a zone defense, straying from the press the team has become known for, and only gave up five points.

“We went to zone — people that know me know that that’s almost something I will never do,” Hearlihy said. “But it was what was going to win us a championship today. And so we did a good job playing defense, rebounding and then Deana and Valentina scoring for us was huge.”

The Harvard-Westlake girls basketball team was appearing in the state championships just hours before the school’s boys basketball was slated to compete in the Open Division final. It’s the first time that the school has had two teams competing at the state level.

The boys team was in the student section cheering on the girls, another example of unified Harvard-Westlake basketball.

“In the last couple weeks, we’ve really come together,” Hearlihy said. “And we’re so excited to support the guys tonight.”

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