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Harvard-Westlake Has the Big Shots

Division III-AA final: Wolverines sink seven of last eight free throws and upset top-ranked Bishop Montgomery, 65-62.


LONG BEACH — Big arena, big opponent. Big deal.

Unimpressed by playing at The Pyramid, undaunted facing Bishop Montgomery High, top-ranked in the state Division III rankings, Harvard-Westlake scratched out a 65-62 victory on Friday to capture the Southern Section Division III-AA girls' basketball championship.

"We came out unintimidated," Coach Melissa Hearlihy said. "We weren't intimidated by the site or by Bishop Montgomery."

The third-seeded Wolverines (26-5), who won their second section title in four seasons, got contributions from almost everyone who touched the ball.

Karina Siam had 19 points, including four free throws in the final 17 seconds.

Chantal Kazay had 14 points. Sophomore point guard Lyndsey Medders had 12 points, four assists and committed no turnovers. Nyasha Bralock, playing on a sprained knee ligament, scored 10 points.

Bishop Montgomery (25-6), defending state champion, hit three three-pointers in the final 48 seconds, at one point trimming a 60-53 deficit to 63-62.

Each time the Knights threatened, the Wolverines answered, hitting seven of their last eight free throws and 19 of 24 overall.

Siam made the last two with 5.1 seconds left and Kazay deflected the Knights' up-court pass out of bounds with less than a second remaining, leaving Noelle Quinn of Bishop Montgomery only enough time to heave a 25-foot prayer off an inbounds pass at the buzzer.

For Siam, it was nothing new. As a freshman at Alemany, she set a Southern regional record by making nine of 10 free throws at The Pyramid.

"People hit big shots all night and we stayed poised, which is a big thing for us," Medders said.

Quinn, one of the top sophomores in the country, finished with 22 points but received little help from anyone other than freshman Nykia Peace, who scored 20 points.

Iris Dulay had nine points for Bishop Montgomery, which made seven of 10 three-pointers.

Harvard-Westlake, which upset No. 2 Fullerton Rosary in the semifinals, received clutch performances from Veronica Brooks, who scored seven points, Kelly Walters, who hit a crucial three-pointer in the second quarter, and Erin Stepheson, who had three steals.

"It wasn't one or two players," Brooks said. "It was everybody. This is amazing."

It was a sweet victory for the Wolverines, who where throttled, 85-56, by Bishop Montgomery last season in the semifinals.

"I just saw the looks on [the Knights'] faces before the game," Siam said. "I think they just thought they were going to win."

Both teams advance to the state playoffs next week, and could meet again next Saturday in the Southern regional final.

"We came across some things we weren't expecting this time," Coach Lisa Cooper of Bishop Montgomery said. "Next time, we'll be better prepared and ready to win."

With two rounds before the regional final, the Wolverines aren't thinking that far ahead.

"We have to get there first," Hearlihy said.


* Today's Southern Section championship games. D12

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