By Alex Edel
From the beginning of the season the girlsâ basketball team has had a well defined and known goal: to win state.
On Friday they will finally have the chance to achieve this goal as they face off against St. Maryâs of Albany California in the Div. IV state finals at 3:30 p.m. at the Robobank Arena in Bakersfield, California.
This season, the girls won 29 games in a row, losing only to Mater Dei, the number one team in the state. Coach Melissa Hearlihy credits the teamâs unity and depth. She knows and believes that she can rely on her second string to score points and keep the team in the game, she said.
In the CIF final game against Bishop Montgomery, Hearlihy said that what helped them to win was their depth.
“Our CIF final game was indicative of our depth. We had to go to our bench and they really pulled through. The fact that we are not just relying on our starters really helps us,” Hearlihy said.
Nicole Hung â10 agreed, saying that because the season is so long, starting in early November, having a reliable second string has really helped.
“We can get quick breaks and the subs can go in and do a good job and we are not scared of what is going to happen,” Hung said.
Although the majority of the starting line-up is made up of seniors, the rising juniors also contributed to this seasonâs success.
Skylar Tsutsui â11 is the third leading scorer on the team with an average of 9.5 points per game, only behind Hung and Nicole Nesbit â10. Other underclassmen who have had a major part in the quest for the state title are Leslie Shumanâ12, Hilary King â11, Esther Lee â11 and Tiana Woolridge â11.
Hearlihy said the team has also mastered the tough mental aspect of the game and was able to come back from being behind most of the CIF final game to win. After getting three quick fouls at the beginning of the Regional Finals game, Nesbit had to rely on her tough mentality to get her back in the game, she said.
“Getting three quick fouls in the first half kind of took me out of the game so just being patient and keeping my head and my composure in my game really helped,” Nesbit said.
The “all-five” concept has been a motto for the team, and Hearlihy attributes the teamâs success to their unity and friendship; something she feels is a challenge at Harvard-Westlake.
“They enjoy each other, they want to be with each other and that is something that I have worked so hard on at this campus,” Hearlihy said. “We have been talented for the past three years, but I think that it is the extra unity that we can attribute our success to.”
St. Mary is 33-3 overall this season losing only to Brea Linda, Hanford, and Miramonte. Max Preps has ranked St. Mary 15th and Harvard-Westlake fifth going into Fridayâs game.