They don't have the star power, number of wins or high playoff seeding of their championship past. But the St. Francis Troubadours still do the same core things that have made for one of the most storied high school girls basketball programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
They share the ball, execute, defend and generally compete as if players' ponytails are on fire.
Those elements allowed the Troubadours to withstand a rigorous Delta River League that included Bee-ranked heavyweights Pleasant Grove, Oak Ridge and Sheldon.
Tuesday night, the Troubadours overcame an athletic, eager Monterey Trail team in a Division I playoff opener.
Sloppy early and efficient and poised late, No. 12-seeded St. Francis eliminated the No. 5 Mustangs 61-50 in a contest that was tight and physical throughout.
Perhaps the giddiest among the Troubadours was coach Vic Pitton, who high-fived all comers as the game wore down on the strength of a closing 10-0 run by his team.
"We play our hearts out," Pitton said. "I could see that in the summer, and I said, 'I could work with you if we play hard like that.'
"I told them there would be bumps with the schedule we had, but you have to learn to lose, and then you learn to win."
St. Francis (16-12) has won eight section titles, including last season in large-school D-I for the first time.
This season's team had to overcome a three-game Delta River losing streak just to reach the postseason.
Only two role-playing starters returned this season in seniors Mac-Kenzie Conarro and Corinne Friend.
The guards were superb against Monterey Trail.
Conarro scored 18 points and provided steady ballhandling, passing and late free throws.
Friend played tough and inspired despite a tender shoulder, scoring 17 points. She averages 6.7.
Najah Queenland scored eight points and Rachel Frank seven for St. Francis, which plays at fourth-seeded Kennedy on Thursday in the second round.
Kennedy, which lost twice to St. Francis this season in nonleague games, defeated Napa 51-49 in its opener.
"We know we can compete," Conarro said. "We have to trust each other and play hard."
Summayyah Wiggins scored 19 points and Qiana Levy 13 for Monterey Trail.
The Mustangs (22-6) made school history this season by becoming the first team girls or boys to win a league basketball championship.
But their youthful mistakes and big-game pressure and the Troubadours' conditioning made the difference. St. Francis trailed 23-20 at halftime and scored 41 in the second.
"It's still fun," Pitton said of the journey in general. "When it stops being fun, teaching life lessons, I'll turn it in. But not now."