Western coach Breezy Bishop had a simple message for senior forward Kelly Evans.
After visiting Laurel had pulled within four points early in the Girls Class 4A, Region II final
fourth quarter, Bishop called a timeout and confronted Evans, who had been complaining about the officiating.
"I told her to step up and to shut up," Bishop said. "Let the officials do their job and you do your job as an athlete."
And what a job she did.
Evans scored 13 of Western's final 27 points to lead the top-ranked Doves to a 70-50 victory in the Class 4A, Region II final yesterday.
Evans finished with a game-high 22 points, and sophomore forward Chanel Wright added 20 points and six rebounds.
Western (24-0), which advances to the state semifinals Thursday at UMBC, is two victories away from a state title in its first season as a member of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
It appeared as if the Doves were going to put the game away early. They made six of their first seven shots en route to a 12-0 lead.
But Laurel (20-4), a state semifinalist last season, settled down and battled Western the rest of the way.
The Spartans, who trailed 33-27 at halftime, twice pulled within -- four in the second half.
Starr Jefferson's follow of her missed shot cut Western's lead to 43-39 with 6:48 remaining.
That's when Bishop called time and Evans went to work.
Evans scored 11 in a 17-9 Western run that gave the Doves a 60-48 lead with 2:17 left.
Bishop had criticized her upperclassmen last season for not stepping up in crucial situations.
"I've heard her say that," Evans said. "I felt I had to take control. I had to become a leader."
Wright was the Doves' defensive leader. She held Laurel senior guard Nicole Mamula, Prince George's County's all-time leading scorer, to 15 points -- five in the second half.
"We had them scouted well," Bishop said. "We knew if we shut Mamula down, we'd be in control of the game."
Laurel coach Rich Grabisch had scouted the Doves, as well.
"I said on Thursday that we had scouted them, but we knew they were the better team," he said. "I also said that the better team doesn't always win. Well, [yesterday] they did."
In addition to Evans and Wright, Bishop praised senior point guard Erika Dailey (four points), who did a nice job running the Doves' offense.
Dailey had missed Thursday's game against Poly because of the flu. With Dailey and sophomore Kimberly Smith out, the Doves were missing both point guards.
"Erika got out of her sick bed and did a great job," Bishop said.
Earlier this week, Bishop received some good news about Smith, who was injured during a scrimmage last week.
Smith stopped using crutches a few days ago, and Bishop said there is a better than 50-50 chance that Smith will get some playing time Thursday.