DECATUR — St. Teresa's girls basketball team wasn't going to give Mount Pulaski a chance.
The Bulldogs kept their feet on the gas pedal throughout Thursday's Class 1A LSA Regional championship, to win 67-39 and capture the program's third straight regional title.
St. Teresa jumped out to a 22-8 lead thanks for seven first-quarter points from senior DaeLin Switzer and never surrendered the lead the entire game.
"It is always the goal to come out quickly and consistently play 32 minutes with energy and effort and we did that today," St. Teresa coach Andrea Dorsey said. "To do that from game-to-game has been our Achilles' heel throughout the year but they certainly did that here tonight. I'm proud of them."
The Bulldogs received double-digit scoring performances from Switzer, senior Claire Peters and sophomore Addison Newbon, and each picked their time to shine.
Switzer led in the first quarter, Peters added six of her 11 points in the second quarter and Newbon was steady throughout and finished with a team-high 17 points.
"I think we had good ball movement and we took good shots," Peters said. "It worked out for us and we prepared well for the game. Everyone did what they need to win tonight."
St. Teresa extended its lead to 33-15 at halftime and Mount Pulaski's offense was all Skylar Hayes. The Hilltoppers' all-time leading scorer provided all 15 of the team's first half points and finished with a game-high 24 points.
"We weren't overlooking St. T by any means and we knew they were a great team," Mount Pulaski coach Eric Leever said. "They came out with an intensity and ready to play tonight and I'm not saying we didn't but they wanted it. They were more aggressive."
The Hilltoppers beat St. Teresa 58-54 on Jan. 7 and Dorsey saw the difference in the Bulldogs' performance tonight.
"Overall I think we played much better than we did the first time and better than we have in the past couple games as a unit," she said. "We had better communication and energy and we always play better defensively when we have that and that all stemmed from our energy at the start of the game.
The Bulldogs pressed much of the game, which led to numerous deflections and jump balls.
"We do really well on our press and we know that's our strong suit," Peters said. "The press really gets us going and fired up and it helps us succeed but we had to do a lot of things to make it work.
"Overall, we talk a lot about our defense. We have been working on our help-side (defense) and getting on the floor for every loose ball.
"Everyone noticed tonight and coach told us that our defense was some of the best we have done this year."
In the second half, more Hilltoppers (21-12) got into the scoring, including six points for Savannah Moore and seven for Morgan May, but they couldn't chip into the imposing St. Teresa advantage.
Mount Pulaski's seniors pushed the team to success this year that they hadn't seen in a while.
"It has been six years since we have had a 20-win season. The seniors are a great group of kids. Skylar and Morgan were four-year kids for us and Savannah came and fit right in, and Abigail Fitzpatrick came and played this year for the first time since junior high. I couldn't ask much more from them," Leever said.
Dorsey has found regional success in her first year coaching the Bulldogs and taking that next step will depend on finding that balanced performance again.
"It was a great team win and I'm happy for the girls. I'm always excited for them and I love to see hard work pay off," she said. "When you can have a couple kids in double figures and you can't clue in on one kid that's always a good thing. We certainly have the capabilities to be balanced and we always end up playing our best when we are balanced."
Newbon's aggressive play under the basket will also be a key for the Bulldogs going forward.
"I'm so excited tonight. Our team chemistry was going very well and everyone was playing really hard, including those that came off the bench and that helps a lot," she said. "I think we were all flowing very well tonight and we just wanted to get out and get this win and we came out hard in the beginning and pulled it through."
St. Teresa (20-8) will play the winner of the Danville Schlarman Regional between Schlarman vs. Armstrong that is played at 7 p.m. Friday night. The sectional semifinal matchup will be Monday at 6 p.m. at St. Teresa.