TAMPA — All tournament, while Gibbs' lockdown defense was shutting down opponents, it also was opening up opportunities for its offense.
But the tables turned Wednesday night when the Gladiators faced a solid defensive front as Plant jumped to an early lead and went on to a physical 55-34 victory in the championship game of the Jaguar Holiday Tournament.
"Our man defense was really effective," Plant coach Carrie Mahon said. "We were able to stop them one-on-one and really played a containment defense."
That containment limited Gibbs to four first-quarter points.
Meanwhile, as the Panthers slowly pulled away, Gibbs' miscues and frustration led to turnovers and fouls.
The Panthers, who had a total of 11 players score, managed to maneuver around Gibbs' defense, drive to the basket and make free throws. Plant made 17 of its 27 free-throw attempts while maintaining a lead throughout.
Michelle Taylor and Kelly Brennan led the Panthers with 16 points each. Taylor was named tournament MVP.
Gibbs got solid games from Fahran Franklin (16 points) and Shineice Beamon (18), but the Gladiators' top scorers had little help offensively. No other Gibbs player scored, and the team converted only 5-of-24 free-throw attempts.
"It was a physical game, and the girls played hard," said Gibbs coach Angela Meiser, whose team placed second in the event for the second straight year. "We kind of had our hearts taken away a little bit early with some of the (foul) calls, but we tried to come back and just couldn't get going. We couldn't finalize."