SERENA — Gardner-South Wilmington was done in by a poor first quarter and big scoring from two players in a regional girls basketball loss to Serena in 2012.
Almost the exact same scenario played out Wednesday night at the Class 1A Serena Regional to end another season for the Lady Panthers. They lost 48-21 to the hosts, allowing Serena to move on to face top-seeded Newark, a 70-28 winner over LaMoille, in Thursday's championship.
At last year's Dwight Regional, the Lady Panthers fell behind 13-3 by the end of the first quarter on their way to a 48-38 loss as Jeri Brennan and Demi Witter scored a combined 37 points for Serena. Wednesday, GSW faced a 19-0 deficit when the first quarter ended, and Witter and twin sister Ashante finished the game with a combined 31 points.
"Last season was pretty much the same thing," GSW point guard Chelsea Schultz said. "They got out to a fast start and were pretty much blowing us out by the end of the first quarter. Both times it was just too much for us to catch up."
GSW's first five possessions resulted in turnovers Wednesday — and on the sixth, the Lady Panthers beat the Husker press, only to miss a layup. They finished the quarter 0-for-8 from the field and had eight turnovers. Serena made 8-of-16 shot attempts, including 3-of-3 from beyond the three-point line.
"It was brutal," GSW coach Adam Leigh said of the quarter. "I don't know that there was any one area that you can point to as the difference. We just didn't play well at all, and they were in the zone. Obviously, when you get in a spot where you're down 19-0, it's asking a lot to try and come back from that."
The shutout ended on a Miranda Faletti jumper just over a minute into the second quarter. The basket started a 13-4 GSW run that included three-pointers from Emily Foley and Schultz. A Reann Scoggin jumper got the deficit down to 10 points, but the Huskers scored the final six points of the quarter to lead 29-13 at halftime.
"We came right back and outscored them 13-10 in the second quarter," Leigh said. "It's tough to say whether or not we could have made a game of it had we not gotten off to that kind of start, but it definitely hurt whatever chance we had."
Serena outscored GSW 12-6 during the third quarter, allowing the Witters and the rest of its starters to rest much of the fourth. While Ashante Witter scored 16 points to lead the Huskers and Demi had 15, GSW's leading scorer was Schultz with six.
"We were in a position throughout this season where Chelsea had to be a scorer out of necessity. I'm not saying we always relied on her 100 percent, but she was forced to look to shoot," Leigh said. " She handles the ball so well that I never had to worry about her, even against good pressing teams. Even tonight, I don't think their press was what was giving us problems, really, and that's because of her."
The Lady Panthers finished 10-17.
"Going into the year, I think a lot of people thought we might just have an OK team, but we did pretty good," Schultz said.