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Serena started swiftly, Mooseheart labored, and for eight minutes, there looked to be only one winner in Wednesday’s Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional semifinal.
While Mooseheart rallied time and again, the 29-13 edge after that opening quarter proved decisive. By game’s end, the margin between the teams remained 16 points and Serena advanced to Friday’s championship against Aurora Christian with a 53-37 victory.
Dawson Fuller scored 16 of his game-high 22 points while Jakob Setchett scored all 10 of his points in the opening quarter as the Huskers raced to a large early advantage.
“They ran really good offense,” Mooseheart coach Pete Daneels said. “They shot the ball well from three, they shot the ball well from mid-range and they hit the boards really hard.”
With a large lead, Serena (21-7) was able to dictate the game’s tempo, and the Huskers chose a patient offense. Mooseheart managed only two points in the second quarter and each team scored 6 points in an offensively-arid third quarter.
“Offensively, we were struggling,” Daneels said. “We made silly turnovers, missed some easy shots and didn’t shoot the ball very well. If we had hit more shots early and stayed in the game, it may have been a different story in terms of competitiveness.”
Mooseheart’s offense improved in the fourth quarter when Serena was playing mostly bench players. Styles Redmond and Latif Adebayejo scored seven points apiece to pace the Ramblers while the only on-court senior Wednesday was Tarry Johnson, who added six points. Mooseheart struggled with senior center Joey Leitner out with illness.
With only Johnson and Leitner graduating, the Ramblers will have their most experienced squad in some time next season. Mooseheart finished the 2016-17 campaign 13-10.
“The last two years, what I have told people is that we’re a very young team,” Daneels said. “Next year, I won’t be able to say that. All our starters will be upperclassmen. Tonight, we started a freshman (Adebayejo) at center and I had to live with him learning against an upperclassman.”