Western relied on switching defenses, a lot of free throws and a big finish to polish off City for the third time this season, taking a 66-56 victory yesterday for its second straight Class 3A North girls basketball regional title.
The No. 6 Doves had beaten the Knights in two close games, including a six-point victory in last week's Baltimore City final, so they expected another intense game.
"This game, it was already highly talked about," said Western senior Mischa Minor, who scored 26 points. "We knew they were going to come out to win, so we had to match that even stronger. We just did what we did the first two times and played harder this time."
The Doves (21-4) gained Thursday's state semifinals, where they will meet No. 14 Fallston at 9 p.m. at UMBC's RAC Arena.
Yesterday, Western showed a variety of defenses, including zones that were quick around the perimeter to keep in check City's hot-shooting guard tandem of LaShay Taft and Breaira Barksdale. The pair combined for 51 points and eight three-pointers in their semifinal win over No. 11 Catonsville, but the Doves held them to 27 points and four three-pointers.
Taft, a freshman who scored 16, struggled from the perimeter, but her put-back brought the Knights, who had trailed by eight in the third quarter, within a point with 6:01 to go.
A minute later after three Doves free throws, City's Andrea Lee cut the margin to 55-53, but Western finished with an 11-3 run, thanks in large part to 7-for-10 free-throw shooting.
The Doves hit 21 free throws in the game - 10 in the fourth quarter. They shot 32 for the game, almost three times as many as the Knights (18-8). City went 9-for-12 from the line and had just one attempt in the final quarter. Each team hit 21 field goals.