Plant High girls basketball coach Carrie Mahon knew Gulf scoring sensation Nicole Adams would get her points.
Mahon just wanted to make sure Adams had to work for them in the semifinals of the Jaguar Holiday Tournament on Wednesday at Academy of the Holy Names.
Adams finished with a game-high 27 points but she will be seeing the Panthers' Kaitlyn Brady in her sleep as Plant held off a late third-quarter rush by the Buccaneers and advanced to tonight's championship game with a 64-54 win.
"We knew we had to defend (Adams) and (Leighlani Paselio) - they are both incredible athletes," Mahon said. "But I thought we did a pretty good job on them. They had to work hard for what they got."
With the score tied midway through the first quarter, the Panthers (11-2) went on a 19-1 run that carried into the second quarter to take a 29-11 lead. But Gulf (14-2) battled back to trail 33-25 at intermission.
The Buccaneers continued to cut into Plant's lead, and a 3-point play by Kayla Kivinski with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter pulled Gulf to within 38-36. But a field goal by Reggine Brown and a 3-pointer by Kelly Brennan increased the Panthers' lead to 7 at the end of the third quarter.
An 8-3 run by Plant to start the final quarter took care of any thoughts the Buccaneers might have of getting close again. Gulf couldn't even force the Panthers to the foul line, only committing six fouls in the second half.
Plant had three players in double figures, led by Brennan's 15 points. Rebecca Marve had 11 points and Nicole Sivyer added 10.
The Panthers will face Clearwater (16-1) in the championship. The Tornadoes downed Durant 66-53 in the other semifinal.