Western senior Chanel Wright signed an autograph for a fan yesterday and then took a moment to reflect on her last home game, which had ended minutes earlier.
"This is our last year and we want to go out on a positive note," she said. "We know we have the talent. We just have to use it."
The top-ranked and defending Class 4A state champion Doves had more than enough talent yesterday, as they routed No. 3 Lake Clifton, 75-46, in the Class 4A North Region championship game.
Western (24-0), which has won an area-best 31 straight games, advances to the state semifinals for the third consecutive year on Thursday at UMBC against an opponent to be determined.
Wright scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Doves and seniors Kimberly Smith (16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, six steals), Danielle Davis (12 points, seven rebounds) and Tesha Tinsley (10 points, seven steals, six rebounds) also scored in double figures.
Western, which beat Lake Clifton twice during the regular season (69-41 and 62-37), was not as sharp on offense as it was during Thursday's 55-point rout of Dulaney, but the Doves' defense and deep bench compensated.
Although the Doves missed eight of their first nine shots and finished the first quarter 7-for-20 from the field, they opened the game on a 19-4 run and led 23-7 after one quarter.
"It seemed like we struggled with everything," Western coach Breezy Bishop said. "It's hard to play a team for the third time, especially if you've beaten them twice."
The Lakers (17-3), however, were unable to capitalize on Western's shooting woes.
Lake Clifton, which was led by senior guard DeShawn Coleman (17 points), made only two of 12 shots from the field and committed 11 turnovers in the first quarter.
Western then scored 14 of the first 16 points in the second quarter to increase its lead to 37-9 and never looked back.
Bishop substituted freely -- nine players scored -- while the Lakers used seven players for most of the game.
"We played to the best of our ability, but Western is a strong, deep team," Lake Clifton coach James Monroe said.
Despite the intimidating presence of Lake Clifton's 6-6 senior center Natisha Ferguson and the absence of Western's 6-2 senior center Lisa Jackson, the Doves dominated inside.
Davis limited Ferguson to 12 points, and Western out-rebounded the Lakers 27-13 in the first half, including an 18-6 edge on the offensive boards.
For the third straight year, Lake Clifton had its season ended by Western. The Lakers have lost six games the past two seasons -- all to the Doves.
"At least we made it here to meet them," Monroe said. "A lot of teams weren't here."