With a young team, No. 19 Western now measures its postseason success in small steps rather than one giant leap to the state final.
Yesterday's 79-30 win over host Northwestern in a Class 4A North regional quarterfinal brought the Doves (18-5) within two steps of their current goal -- reaching the state final four.
"These are the new kids on the block," said Western coach Breezy Bishop, who graduated six Division I players from the team that won back-to-back state Class 4A titles and reached the title game three straight years. "We take one game at a time. [This afternoon], it's Mervo and we don't even look past Mervo. We can't look past anybody."
Even though the Doves beat Mervo, 59-35, during the regular season, Bishop said she is worried about today's game because Mervo had a day off between games and the Doves have to play two days in a row.
Mervo won its quarterfinal game Monday while the Doves played yesterday as part of a double-header that included the Northwestern-Southwestern boys game.
"With us having to play back-to-back games, after the second quarter I played my bench," said Bishop. "With Mervo, they're a very strong team, and I wanted to have fresh legs [today]."
Nonetheless, the Doves had little trouble running past ailing Northwestern yesterday.
Melita Davis' basket to open the second quarter kept the Wildcats within three, but Western reeled off the next 17 points to finish the half with a 32-12 lead. The Doves led by as much as 75-22 before the Wildcats added eight in the final two minutes.
Tyesha McMillion led the Doves with 17 points. Ashley Davis added 16 and Marion Moore, 12.
The Wildcats got 15 points from Katrina Hurt, but they struggled without injured starters Keisha Todd (18-point average) and Nicole Eades.
Wildcats coach Lillian Brown brought up six players from the junior varsity. All of them played and the results were predictable.
"My varsity would have had a hard time against Western," said Brown. "But my JV wins against Western's varsity -- no way in the world. It would have been a miracle."