Glenelg High School's girls basketball team took on the dual look of a sprinter and a marathoner Thursday.
The homestanding Gladiators came out smoking against Westminster, staging a first-quarter clinic of good defense, crisp passing and great shooting while building a 22-point, second-quarter lead.
Two quarters later, Glenelg foul trouble and an awakened Westminster offense had combined to erase any thoughts of a blowout, as the Gladiators' lead shriveled to four points with four minutes left to play.
But after taking a timeout to regroup, the Gladiators responded with impressive late foot -- a 13-6 run that put away the Owls, 57-46.
The Gladiators, who never trailed, flashed all kinds of strengths while keeping first-year coach Barb Wolf's season perfect. Glenelg is 5-0.
Glenelg's forward tandem of 5-foot-11 Kristi Moore and 5-8 Sarah Jones led a potent inside-outside attack.
Moore led the Gladiators with 16 points on 7-for-12 shooting, grabbed five rebounds and confounded Westminster (2-2) with several untouchable turnaround jump shots in the paint. Jones added 14 points on 7-for-15 shooting, collected six rebounds and hurt the Owls equally with power moves inside and feathery shots from the wings.
When she wasn't on the bench with foul trouble, guard Leslie Service -- who eventually fouled out -- gave the Gladiators some solid minutes. She scored the first two baskets of the game, before finishing with eight points on 4-for-5 shooting.
Forward Shannon McCartney turned in a workman-like four-point, nine-rebound (team-leading) performance. And point guard Tanissa Dorsey wreaked havoc with four steals, four assists and five points. Her three-point play sealed the victory with 2:18 left.
Nine players scored for Glenelg, which hit 25 of 58 shots from the floor (43 percent), and out-rebounded the Owls, 35-25.
"We don't have a dominating player on the floor, and that's good," said Wolf. "We had a lot of individuals on the floor when we started practice.
We're much more of a team now. I'm trying to get them to realize that whatever their role is, they have to do it well."
The Gladiators did everything well at the outset, putting on a first-quarter show that Wolf probably wishes she could bottle. They forced nine Westminster turnovers, carved up the Owls' full-court press with excellent ball movement, and shot a blistering 71 percent (10-for-14) to take a 20-4 lead at the end of the quarter.
Jones (six points), Moore (four) and Service (four) led the first-period blitz, as Glenelg worked the ball inside and kicked it outside with ease.
At one point, the Gladiators scored on seven straight possessions.
Glenelg then started the second period with three more unanswered baskets -- a 17-foot baseline jumper by Jones, a layup by Moore and a tough, 12-foot turnaround jumper by Moore in traffic. With 5:39 to go in the half, Glenelg was cruising with a 26-4 advantage.
The Gladiators then began having problems. While Moore and Service sat on the bench for much of the quarter with two fouls apiece, the Owls started hitting open shots against the Gladiators' man-to-man defense, and chipping away at the foul line. Glenelg scored just two points in the last five minutes of the half, while committing five turnovers. Westminster answered with 13 over that same stretch.
By halftime, the Gladiators had five players saddled with two fouls and their lead a not-so-robust 28-17. Westminster had made just five of 20 shots from the floor, yet still found itself within striking distance.
"We didn't really have our heads in it. We were all excited because of the (26) point spread," Jones said. "The next time we looked up, we were only ahead by 10."
"When our intensity is there, we can really play ball," Wolf added. "You can tell the difference. We were playing pretty good defense in the second quarter, but that I'm-going-to-get-that-ball-no-matter-what look wasn't there."
The Owls crept closer in the third quarter, while Service and Moore sat the last six minutes after picking up their third fouls. Three times the Owls climbed to within eight, mainly on the strong inside play of Jill Mulroy, who led Westminster with 15 points -- seven in the third period.
Westminster struck the most fear into Glenelg in the first half of the fourth quarter. Behind Mulroy's two layups -- both resulting from offensive rebounds -- the Owls cut the lead to 44-40 with 3:59 left.
Wolf called a timeout, put her starters back on the floor, and the Gladiators sealed the victory with an 8-0 spurt.
Service started it with a fast-break layup. Moore then canned another turnaround 12-footer and converted a three-point play when she was fouled on the shot. Jones blocked Westminster's next shot and started a fast break with a nice outlet pass to Dorsey, who finished the sequence with a three-point play to give Glenelg a 52-40 lead with 2:18 left.