SEFFNER — It seems unlikely a winning player would throw around the words "ugly" and "atrocious" after a 36-point win in a girls basketball region semifinal win, but that's exactly what happened Tuesday night at Seffner Christian.
"Our defense (Tuesday) was just atrocious," SCA's Ally Parimore said. "We need to be better."
And the quest for perfection goes on.
Seffner Christian will continue its search for what has turned out to be an elusive state championship Friday when the Crusaders visit Mount Dora Bible in the 3A region final.
"We've been scouting (Mount Dora) a lot," SCA coach Greg Fawbush said. "But we'll have to play a lot better than we did (Tuesday)."
SCA (24-5) was far from fine-tuned Tuesday in a 65-29 win against Fort Meade in the 3A region semifinal. The Crusaders' defensive positioning wasn't anywhere close to their standards, the offense wasn't clicking like it typically does and there was a fluidity missing to their game.
"We struggled getting into any kind of rhythm," Fawbush said.
Oh yeah, and they still won by nearly 40.
But that has been what Fawbush and his team have been chasing since a 60-51 loss to Miami Country Day in last year's state semifinals.
"There were all these cameras and TVs and to be honest, I don't remember much about the whole thing," Parimore said. "It was pretty overwhelming."
However there have been few area teams as consistent as the Crusaders during the past seven years. SCA has reached the semis every year during that stretch, including another state semifinal appearance in 2010-11. But even though the Crusaders have been circling a state title for years, the ring remains elusive.
"That's why we have been putting in the extra hours in the weight room and the gym this summer," Fawbush said. "Winning state is their ultimate goal."
The Crusaders return the core of last year's team — Sabrina Whiting, Peyton Walker, Sara Denny and Parimore — and believe they have the right mix to finally get over the hump.
"The difference between this year (and the past) is the continuity," Fawbush said. "These girls really love each other on and off the court. That's the number one difference between this team and really any other team we've had here. If you look back, it's pretty much the same team we had two years ago. They are on the same page."
The Armwood girls team takes on Naples Barron Collier on Saturday in a Class 6A regional championship after knocking off Dixie Hollins Tuesday.
The Hawks will look to extend their recent streak of stingy defensive efforts against the Cougars. Armwood focused efforts on shutting down Dixie Hollins scorer Megan Thomas and ended up bolting to a 19-0 lead after the first quarter.
Thomas, who entered the regional semifinal averaging 26.4 points, scored only 24 and tallied only four in the first half. Kiana King led the Hawks with 19 points as Armwood benefited from a strong inside game.
The Hawks (26-4) face a tough opponent in Barron Collier, a team that defeated Port Charlotte 65-62 after thwarting a late comeback effort by the Pirates.
Barron Collier has won four consecutive district titles, reached the second round of the state playoffs 11 times in 13 seasons and won state titles in 2006 and 2008. Last year, it reached a regional final before losing to Miami Norland.
The Cougars enter the game against Armwood having won eight straight.
Saturday's winner advances to the Class 6A final four in Lakeland. The semifinals will be played Feb. 21 and the championship game tips off on Feb. 22.