TAMPA — Realignment placed them in different classifications, but the girls basketball rivalry between Jefferson and Plant is alive and well.
"We just don't like each other very much," as Plant coach Carrie Mahon put it.
In an early-season game between unbeaten teams that featured physical play, Jefferson overcame a 14-point first-quarter deficit to beat the Panthers 65-53.
With Plant in 6A and Jefferson now in 4A, the former 5A district rivals likely won't meet against this season, but the intensity was still there.
"Everyone's head was boosted because of the fact that it's Plant," Jefferson senior guard Jade Givens said. "Everyone wants to beat Plant. It came slow, but we came through. We picked it up towards the end. Plant's a great team. They play well and work hard, but we just came harder."
Jefferson's Jade Givens and Laurie Beaty each had 14 points to lead the Dragons. Chantell Frazier added 12 points.
Center Shayla Wilson scored all of her eight points in the second half and had a team-high 14 rebounds. The Dragons (6-0) put the game away by going 11-for-14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Plant sophomore Kelly Brennan scored 10 of her game-high 22 points in the first quarter, which saw the Panthers (2-1) take an 18-6 lead after scoring 16 of the game's first 18 points.
"I think everyone felt this was kind of a David and Goliath thing, and we just didn't think so," Mahon said. "We're looking at the pencil and paper part of it. We made the same amount of field goals, the same amount of free throws."
Jefferson outscored Plant 23-14 in the second quarter to close its deficit to 32-29 at the half. The Dragons took the lead in the third but couldn't shake Plant until midway through the fourth quarter, when Wilson's 3-pointer capped an 8-2 run.
"We were complaining a bit about being pushed around," Jefferson coach Tom Mosca said of Jefferson's first-quarter struggles. "We just needed to play a little bit tougher and deal with it. You can't let any of that stuff take you out of the game. When you play Plant, it's been a rivalry and maybe we were trying too hard."