There was absolutely no suspense in the Class 4A East girls basketball region.
The third-ranked Arundel Wildcats - finding a higher level each time they take the floor - simply wouldn't have it.
With a hot-shooting performance from senior Amanda Hernandez, another stellar all-around effort from sophomore Alex McGuire and plenty of others doing their part and more, the Wildcats breezed by No. 15 Meade, 81-52, last night in Gambrills to capture their sixth regional crown in nine years.
Arundel, a winner of two state titles, will meet West regional champion Winston Churchill in a state semifinal at 3 p.m. Thursday at UMBC.
"We've been playing this way all year," said Arundel coach Lee Rogers, whose Wildcats improved to 22-3. "We don't talk about winning, just playing within our system and working hard. We're just trying to raise the bar, and they believe in the system."
How's this for dominating the region: The Wildcats, winners of 13 straight, have outscored their three playoff opponents by a margin of 33 points. And after jumping on Frederick for a 17-1 lead in a 87-37 win in the semifinals Thursday, they came out even faster last night against their county rivals, going up 20-2 and leading 28-4 after the first quarter.
Indeed, the issue was settled early. Hernandez, who finished with a game-high 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting, said that has been the plan.
"That's what we're told - leave no doubt on the floor," she said. "It's all clicking. We're playing well as a team and everything is flowing. We just have to keep playing like we've been playing."
The Wildcats, who shot 68 percent from the field, had a number of impressive contributors. McGuire had 19 points and 10 rebounds; senior guard Jessie Collins added 15 points and six assists; and sophomore guard Ana Baker had eight points, nine steals and eight assists.
"We're peaking at the right time," McGuire said. "We're not missing too many jumpers, playing good defense and everything is flowing. We came out hard and let them know this was ours."
The Mustangs (18-6) got 20 points from senior forward Shamir Footman.
M-Footman 20, Wells 10, Williamson 9, Dobbins 4, Carter 2, McKinney 2, Thurman 2, Ramsey 3. Totals: 19 15-26 52.
A-Hernandez 22, McGuire 19, Collins 15, Baker 8, Johnson 11, Butler 2, Cunnane 2, Vails 2. Totals: 36 7-11 81. Half: A, 47-18.