TAMPA — In 16 seasons as Clearwater coach, Tom Shaneyfelt can't recall one of his teams starting the year with 15 straight victories.
The Tornadoes accomplished that feat Tuesday, defeating Gibbs 50-42 to win the 10th annual Jaguar Holiday Tournament.
The veteran coach, though, wasn't exactly all smiles with his team's performance.
"We're very much aware that we're not any awesome team," he said. "We've got a lot to work on. But I am proud of them. The challenges that they've had so far, they've risen and played well."
To defeat Gibbs, the Tornadoes (15-0) used a suffocating defense and relied again on their considerable size advantage. Six-foot-2 center and tournament MVP Artajah Collins collected game highs for points (13) and rebounds (nine). She also added three blocks.
Clearwater took a 4-3 lead in the third minute and never trailed. Gibbs (13-2) stayed with the Tornadoes through much of the first half, but a 6-2 run just before the break had Clearwater ahead 32-25 at halftime.
Gibbs switched to a 2-3 zone defense to start the second half, forcing the Tornadoes to make outside shots. The ploy worked for a while. Gibbs held Clearwater without a point until just more than two minutes remained in the third quarter, and the Gladiators cut the lead to a basket.
"It just seemed like every basket was a struggle," Shaneyfelt said. "A lot of it was Gibbs' aggressiveness. They came out and played hard. They're a very good team. We've just got to get in better shape offensively."
A 7-2 Clearwater run to end the third seemed to sap some of the energy from Gibbs. Clearwater, which goes at least 10 deep, wore down the Gladiators over the final quarter.
"I think depth is one advantage that we have over most teams," Shaneyfelt said. "We're not afraid to play people."
With a minute to go, Ashley Tucker drained a 3-pointer to bring the Gladiators within six, but they would get no closer.
Sherika Chance had 11 points and seven rebounds to pace Gibbs. Fahran Franklin and Kamika Idom each added nine points.
In the battle for third place, St. Petersburg, which trailed 25-24 at halftime, held Academy of the Holy Names without a point in the third quarter to win 53-38.
The Green Devils' Jazmyne Green led all scorers with 23 points, 15 coming from 3-point range. Dominique Pruitt added 13 points for St. Petersburg (10-4).
Katie Davis had a team-high 14 points for AHN (5-7).