There is no evidence to suggest that Hannibal Coach Evan Cerven ever hosted a movie night for his team when the John Wayne classic "True Grit" was shown. However, the third-seeded Lady Pirates showed plenty of grit in Tuesday night's 52-43 district tournament victory over second-seeded Moberly in Korf Gymnasium.
"The team at the beginning of the season would've put their heads down and we wouldn't have walked away with a win," Cerven said, referring to a point in the game when Moberly was rallying. "But these girls have improved so much, not only physically but in their mindset."
Hannibal came out and took command early. Featuring a balanced attack that saw Taylor Simms knock down a pair of 3s, Kaylee Falconer score five of her 11 points and Bella Falconer net four of her 15 points Hannibal built a 17-9 lead during the opening quarter.
Cerven said the fast start was more about attitude than anything else.
"We came in with a chip on our shoulder," he said. "We dropped one to them a couple of weeks ago at their place and that kind of got us fired up. That turned into some great defense in the first half."
Hannibal extended its lead in the second quarter and led by 12, 28-16, at the half.
But Moberly did not quit. The Lady Spartans began chipping away at Hannibal's lead.
"We ran into that same problem last night (Monday) against Kirksville," Cerven said. "We had a phenomenal first half and then..."
Cerven credited Moberly for its comeback.
"Our effort was still there. Our decision-making was OK," he said. "They are good ballclub so we had to expect that. They got on their run and we weathered the storm the best we could."
Moberly would get as close as five points, 41-36, when Sydney Flood, who led all scorers with 21 points, sank a pair of free throws with 4:11 yet to go in the game.
From that point on Hannibal would outscore Moberly 11-7 to secure the win.
The 13-12 Lady Pirates will go up against top-seeded Saint Francis Borgia, 11-14, for the district crown at 6 p.m. Friday in Korf Gym.
The Lady Knights disposed of Mexico 61-43 in Tuesday's other semifinal girls game.