Southmoore didn't want to leave any doubt when they took the court Tuesday. Facing rival Westmoore the 11th ranked SaberCats jumped on top of the Jaguars early and never let up as they rolled to a 51-34 victory at WMH.
The victory pushed the Cats record to 5-1 as they continue to be the biggest surprise of the season early part of the season.
"It feels really good," senior Kayla Tucker said. "They were really underestimating us this year. The rankings came out today. And they didn't put us in a place we liked. So we had something to prove today and I liked how my team responded to it."
In one of her final games against the Jaguars, Tucker spearheaded a first quarter blitz that saw the Southmoore run out to a quick 17-2 advantage. By the time the period ended Westmoore found itself trailing by 22 points.
The SaberCats defense in the first quarter had the young Jags squad confused as they tried to figure out the full-court press Southmoore threw at them. On one inbounding sequence, the Cats stole the ball three straight times and turned it into six points, forcing the Jags to call a time-out.
"We knew they had some young starters and figured the pressure could rattle them up a little bit," Tucker said. "Once we got our press going and got some steals, they were pretty frustrated with what was going on. So we just kept coming on."
Westmoore kept on fighting the rest of the game and even found limited success offensively. However, it was never able to climb out of the hole it dug itself in the first half.
"I think the score speaks for itself," Southmoore coach Britney Kannady-Sayes said. "I think we came out and played hard. We played together. Our defense and our press turned into offense for us. We did the game plan perfectly. They did everything I asked and then some.
Victoria Loy paced the Jaguars with 10 points. Kaci Richardson added 8.
Four players scored in double figures for the SaberCats, led by Kye Gilbert, who had 14. Serithia Hawkins chipped in with 13. Tucker, who scored 12, thought the teams overall performance sent a message.
"I think it does," Tucker said. "I know a lot of teams in the state are already recognizing we are something to deal with. I think it was really just getting respect form our rivals that we feel we didn't get and went out and earned tonight."
Michael kinney Follow me @eyeamtruth