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The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Girls’ basketball wins first CIF Regional title since 2010, advances to State Championships

Darlene Bible
The girls’ basketball team poses with medals and a plaque from their win over Notre Dame on Tuesday Night. This will be the program’s first time advancing to the CIF State Championship since 2010, which they won that year.

After a season full of injuries, setbacks and adversity, the girls’ basketball team finally hit a major milestone, defeating Notre Dame High School from Sherman Oaks 50-38 in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division 2 Regional Final in Taper Gym on Tuesday night.

Led by Girls Basketball Program Head Melissa Hearlihy, the Wolverines were able to secure their second regional championship in school history since 2010 with a team that went on to win the Division 4 State Championship that year. This year’s squad now has a chance to do the same, with a Division 2 title game at Golden1 Center in Sacramento this Saturday.

The deciding factor in the matchup between the two local teams would be defense. Sophomore forward Valentina Guerrero ’26, back for the first time in over five weeks due to a broken nose, was a dominant force on both ends of the paint, securing rebounds and contesting shots. Despite playing in a face mask, Guerrero was able to score a game high of 15 points on mid-range shots and second-chance points off of offensive rebounds and played significant minutes throughout the stretch.

In the first quarter, guard Jamie Yue ’24 and junior guard Deana Thompson ’25 combined for seven to take an early lead of 7-2, but Notre Dame would follow up with a 6-1 run to tie the score at eight going into the second.

Freshman forward Oyinkansola Iriafen ’27 and Thompson would start the quarter with two layups each, but Notre Dame responded with four to tie at 12. However, a series of defensive stops for the Wolverines led into a fast-paced offense for the remainder of the second half. Multiple contributions on defense — loose balls, tipped passes and defensive rebounds — fed into an offense that revolved around Guerrero’s work on the offensive end. She was able to tally seven straight points in three ensuing possessions off of passes and putbacks to bring the team up 19-13. After a media timeout, three other scorers each contributed for the Wolverines to end the second quarter at 26-15, capitalizing on a 14-1 run against the Knights.

To open the second half, Notre Dame scored six points unanswered for a score of 26-21. But freshman guard Angelina Habis ’27 would score her first field goal of the game on a swift spin move from the top of the key, getting the crowd excited. She would continue to take over, scoring the team’s next five points on a pull-up jumper and on a three-pointer, with the Knights scoring only three. Two more scores for the Wolverines and one for Notre Dame would end the third at 38-26.

Yue would begin scoring in the fourth, converting two free throws for the team’s largest lead at 40-26. It would be back-and-forth for the rest of the game, with the Wolverines resisting any scoring runs from the Knights with points of their own. Guerrero and Thompson would combine for ten more points to solidify their third win against the Knights this season.

In a postgame interview, Hearlihy said the team’s young players have continued to step up for each other in big moments, especially with Guerrero’s midseason injury and guard Bella Spencer ’25 full-year ACL injury.

“Today’s the first day we’ve been over .500,” Hearlihy said. “But kids are doing great things on different nights. That’s how you win championships.”

Despite the young roster, Hearlihy said that the girls have continued to trust each other and her coaching throughout the season.

“I just think it’s them understanding what we need to do,” Hearlihy said. “Nobody wants to play defense. It’s not sexy. But it wins games, right? I’ve been trying to get them to buy into that, and we’re finally playing defense the way I’ve been trying to get them all year long.”

The team will play for the Division 2 State Championship this Saturday at Golden1 Center against Colfax High School, a team one hour outside of Sacramento.

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