One team had ice water in its veins. The other threw ice in the lane.
The combination helped Harvard-Westlake High freeze out Morningside in the final minute and claim its first Southern Section girls’ basketball championship.
The Wolverines took advantage of two late technical fouls and ultimately made six free throws in the final 70 seconds of a 45-41 victory over Morningside on Friday in the Division III-A championship game at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’ll take it,” Harvard-Westlake Coach Brian Taylor said.
The third-seeded Monarchs were called for having an incorrect number listed in their scorebook and for a fan who threw a cup of ice onto the court in protest of the first technical.
“They completely fell apart,” said Harvard-Westlake guard Brooke Porter, who scored 17 points. “It was their players, their coach, their fans.”
L’Tanya Robnett, scoreless through three quarters, made three of the four free throws assessed to extend the Wolverines’ lead to 42-36.
Just four minutes earlier, the game was tied and Morningside had the momentum.
“It was still anybody’s ballgame,” said Monarch Coach Frank Scott, who kicked the scorer’s table in frustration at the time of the technicals. “Then some things happened.”
Robnett scored all seven of her points in the final five minutes.
Senior guard Corrie Roberts had nine points.
Porter, who entered averaging only 8.7 points, carried the Wolverines offensively for the second consecutive game.
She made three consecutive three-point attempts in the first quarter as top-seeded Harvard-Westlake (26-5) claimed a 12-5 lead and never trailed.
“My confidence is way up right now,” said Porter, who scored 28 points last week in a 75-64 semifinal victory over Nordhoff. “I was just in a shooting slump before, but not now, when it matters.”
The title completed a unique hat trick for the Wolverines, who captured section and state boys’ basketball titles in 1995-96 and ’96-97.
“I never know what it meant to get here,” said Roberts, a four-year starter who can remember when the Wolverines were Mission League doormats her freshman season. “Nothing can ever top this. . . except maybe state.”
Harvard-Westlake will open the state playoffs Tuesday. The opponent and site will be officially determined Sunday.
The Wolverine victory ended Morningside’s 17-game winning streak and avenged a 54-49 loss to the Monarchs (26-6) on Jan. 2 in the Ayala tournament.
“Playing against us the first time, I think they learned how to play us defensively,” said Scott, whose team was seeking its eighth section title in 10 championship-game appearances. “They did a tremendous job, especially against Kamesha [Bell].”
Bell, Morningside’s leading scorer with a 14.7 average, had a game-high 14 rebounds, but managed only six points before fouling out with 1:10 left.