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LA North: Harvard-Westlake girls apply the pressure in Division IV championship game

BAKERSFIELD – The Harvard-Westlake girls' basketball team jumped out to an 11-point first-half lead and poured it on in the second half en route to a 58-44 victory over St. Mary’s of Berkeley in the championship game of the CIF Division IV state playoffs at Rabobank Arena on Friday.

Sydney Haydel scored 20 points, 15 in the first half, and was the catalyst for Harvard-Westlake for the second game in a row. She scored 15 points in the first half of the Southern California Division IV regional championship game against Bishop Montgomery.

St. Mary’s coach Alan Koch called Haydel the “most important” player on Harvard-Westlake’s team, adding she might not be the best player, but she does the little things that make her teammates better.

Haydel was instrumental in turning a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter into an 11-point lead in the second quarter. She provided the offense, but the Harvard-Westlake defense turned it up a notch as well, holding St. Mary’s to 10 second-quarter points and three-for-11 shooting from the field.

“I think we did a really good job of playing pressure defense,” Haydel said. “[St. Mary's] got tired.”

Koch said his team started rushing and made some bad decisions with the ball in the second quarter.

“They made a good defensive adjustment and got us out of doing what we wanted to do,” Koch said.

Three Harvad-Westlake players scored in double figures. Princeton-bound senior Nicole Hung scored 16 points and had nine rebounds. Fellow senior Nicole Nesbit had 15 points and was eight for eight from the free-throw line.

Danielle Mauldin led St. Mary’s with 14 points and seven rebounds. She fouled out with 3:16 left to play and her team down 53-38.

“I’ve been told to watch my fouls all season,” Mauldin said. “It happens.”

Cody Sims had nine points and Jade Rowland scored six points off the bench for St. Mary’s.