1A girls basketball: Twait’s 31 leads Serena past Elgin St. Edward

Huskers’ senior dominates on offensive end in win over Lady Wave

Serena's Maddie Glade puts up a shot during the 1A Sectional game on Tuesday Feb. 20, 2024 at Gardner-South Wilmington High School in Gardner

GARDNER – Serena senior forward Paisley Twait was dominant on the offensive end of the floor throughout Tuesday’s Class 1A Gardner-South Wilmington Sectional semifinal against Elgin St. Edward.

Twait poured in a game-high 31 points, including 15 of 20 free throws, while grabbing eight rebounds, passing for five assists and picking off four steals to lead the Huskers to a 55-44 victory over the Lady Wave.

“That’s something coach [Jim] Jobst has been preaching for me to do more ever since my freshman year,” Twait said. “He has also always said if you are going to take the ball to the basket, you’d better be able to knock down free throws.”

Serena (27-5) advances to play St. Bede at 7 p.m. Thursday for the championship.

Serena led 17-8 after the opening quarter with Makalya McNally (10 rebounds) scoring six of her 11 points on the night. The Huskers held a 25-21 advantage at halftime and 37-30 heading to the fourth with Twait converting a pair of drives in the final minute.

“We knew [St. Edward] played a bunch of different defenses, and we worked in practice against all of them,” Twait said. “I was able to find the soft spot around the free-throw line against their 1-2-2 zone, and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball when I was open. From there, I either took the shot or drove to the hoop.”

“Paisley did an excellent job of finding the open space in St. Edward’s zone and the other four players on the floor did a great job getting her the ball in those open spots.”

—  Jim Jobst, Serena girls basketball coach

“I think after almost four years of me telling her to take the ball to the basket she finally listened to me tonight,” Jobst said with a laugh. “That said, she knocked down a couple of shots from the free-throw line that opened up things even more. Paisley did an excellent job of finding the open space in St. Edward’s zone, and the other four players on the floor did a great job getting her the ball in those open spots.”

Serena led 41-34 with six minutes to play before Twait knocked down six straight free throws, and Jenna Setchell (four rebounds, three assists) added a layup to push the margin to 49-34 with under two minutes to go.

Serena finished 16 of 37 (43%) from the floor and 21 of 32 from the foul line and outrebounded St. Edward 29-22.

St. Edward hit 18 of 41 (44%) of its shot attempts and was 7 of 10 from the charity stripe.

“We saw on film that they like to attack the basket, so our goal was to limit their drives, and if they did drive, we needed to have good help-side defense. We were probably 50/50 in doing that,” Jobst said. “We had a few times where we didn’t rotate defensively like we should have and a few times where we let them get by us too easily. All that said, our defense (21 forced turnovers) wasn’t too bad, but we’ll have to be a lot better Thursday night.”

St. Edward (18-14) was paced by 19 points from freshman Savannah Lynch. Jordin Sauls added eight points, Layne Dawson had seven points and six rebounds, and Maggie Jarzemsky had six points and six rebounds.

“Our execution at times on both ends of the floor needed to be better, and we just turned the ball over way too much,” St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson said. “Serena is an upper-class heavy team with a ton of experience in games like this and we are young. Now we’ve gained a little of that experience and hopefully can use that in the coming seasons.

“We’ve come so far as a team from the start of this season. I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”

Serena's Makayla McNally attempts a shot againse St. Edward during the 1A Sectional game on Tuesday Feb. 20, 2024 at Gardner-South Wilmington High School in Gardner