The Glynn Academy girls basketball team emerged from a holiday tournament before Christmas with a word to carry through the rest of its season.
The Terrors had lost 10 games the previous season by five or fewer points. A four-point loss in a tournament in Warner Robins, Ga., rekindled those old thoughts.
The refreshed outlook this week at Bluffton High School's Bobcat Classic paid dividends. Glynn Academy closed its first Classic title by defeating host Bluffton, 52-31, on Saturday.
With region play around the corner, coach ChoRhonda Gwaltney liked the way her team raced through three games in Bluffton.
"Really, that was our motivation," Gwaltney said. "We just wanted to come in and finish."
Bluffton faced full-court pressure for much of the game. Bobcats coach Lonnie Roberts said his team expected the pressure and was capable of handling it, except at times when players didn't remain patient.
On the defensive end, the Bobcats dealt with picks and backdoor cuts. Glynn Academy sophomore Nesha Murray delivered the most damage, slashing her way to a game-high 22 points.
Murray said the Terrors knew little about Bluffton, other than its outside shooters.
"We knew we couldn't underestimate them," Murray said.
Bluffton started fast, leading 9-4 in the first quarter, but Glynn Academy moved ahead on the free throw line.
The Terrors finished the opening quarter on a 10-0 run, with six points on free throws. Glynn Academy had attempted 17 free throws before Bluffton shot its first.
"They got in the bonus a little too fast," Roberts said. "I thought our intensity level was up. In the end, we just made some careless mistakes."
Murray took over after halftime, scoring eight points during the third quarter. Bluffton was held to one field goal during the third quarter, and the Glynn Academy lead stretched from seven to 16.
For the Bobcats, the tournament served as preparation for their Region 8-AAAA schedule, which starts Jan. 14. Roberts says there is reason for optimism, noting the Bluffton girls had already matched their win total from the previous season and were on the way up.
"We've still got a lot of work," Roberts said. "It ain't like we're going to jump out there and conquer the world."
Glynn Academy 52, Bluffton 31
Glynn Academy (8-4) - Nesha Murray 22, Trina Daniels 11, Vesha Murray 8, Erianny Campbell 5, Symone Hall 4, Faith Singleton 2
Bluffton (5-4) - Tatyana Fripp 14, Diamon Smalls 7, Johnnie Gaston 3, Baylor Davis 2, Tianna Donaldson 2, Rickii Alexander 2, Dynasty Mervin 1
Bobcat Classic Girls all-tournament team
MVP -- Nesha Murray, Glynn Academy
Trina Daniels, Glynn Academy
Vesha Murray, Glynn Academy
Johnnie Gaston, Bluffton
Baylor Davis, Bluffton
Bethany Peyton, Wayne County
Jayme Chisholm, Ridgeland-Hardeeville
Tori Janas, Etowah
Mattie Hibbs, Beaufort High
Saturday's girls results
Championship: Glynn Academy (Ga.) 52, Bluffton 31
Third-place game: Wayne County (Ga.) 62, Ridgeland-Hardeeville 25
Fifth-place game: Etowah (Ga.) 80, Beaufort High 25
Seventh-place game: Whale Branch 52, Wade Hampton 20