Two things were confirmed Thursday night after Harvard-Westlake High's 61-53 girls' basketball victory over Morningside in a Division III Southern Regional semifinal.
First, the Wolverines' four-point victory over Morningside last week in the Southern Section III-A championship was no fluke.
And second, a team from the San Fernando Valley will represent Southern California next week in the state championship game.
The second-seeded Wolverines' victory sets up a rematch with Mission League rival Alemany in the regional final at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
Top-seeded Alemany defeated Central Section champion Bakersfield Wasco, 70-51, in the other regional semifinal.
The state final will be played either March 20 or 21 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento.
Harvard-Westlake and Alemany, each vying for its first berth in a state championship game, split two regular-season meetings. The Wolverines won, 59-45, on Jan. 13 and Alemany answered with a 73-53 victory on Feb. 6.
Harvard-Westlake (28-5) has won nine consecutive games since that loss.
"We're coming for Alemany," said sophomore forward L'Tanya Robnett, who scored 19 points. "We want them bad."
Omelogo Udeze added 17 points and eight rebounds, while 5-foot-7 Corrie Roberts scored nine points and stood out defensively, limiting Morningside's Acheve Barre to 10 points despite a six-inch height disadvantage.
"Corrie did an unbelievable job on her," Wolverine Coach Brian Taylor said of Roberts, the only senior in his lineup.
Morningside forward Kamesha Bell, limited to six points in the meeting last week, finished with 23 on Thursday. However, the Monarchs received only two points from a shallow bench and Barre was the only other starter with more than seven points.
"We just ran out of energy after using only five players all season," said Coach Frank Scott, who led Morningside to state championships in 1988-89 and '89-90. "In the fourth quarter, it looked like our legs went first."
Udeze, who has had her share of leg problems this season, hobbled to the bench almost in tears late in the fourth quarter.
Afterward, the joy of the victory eased the pain.
"It's OK," said the junior forward, who has battled tendinitis in her right knee. "There are only two more games left. It can hurt at the end [of the season]."
Last week in the section final, Harvard-Westlake converted two Morningside technical fouls into three successful free throws with 1:10 left.
Morningside was again called for two technicals Thursday, both on forward Joy Collins, but the Wolverines didn't need the help.
The Monarchs took an 8-0 lead less than three minutes into the game, but Harvard-Westlake finished the half on a 27-12 run for a 27-20 lead. The advantage would grow to 11 points in the second half.