This season already has been a huge turnaround for Gardner-South Wilmington, and Monday night the Panthers made it even better.
Coming off a 2-24 record last year, Gardner-South Wilmington assured itself a winning record with a 52-35 quarterfinal victory over Morgan Park Academy in the Panthers’ Class 1A regional.
GSW raised its overall record to 13-11 going into Wednesday night’s semifinal against top seed St. Anne (22-4).
“It’s a great accomplishment,” forward Kyle Robison said. “We’re guaranteed an above .500 season. It really does feel great.”
GSW showed its balanced attack with four players in double figures. Robison had a game-high 12 points while Tristan Noonan, Blake Marks and Scott Horrie each had 10 points.
“We did good with our scoring. A lot of players contributed,” Robison said.
The lanky 6-3 Marks was a force under the basket with 16 rebounds. Robison had seven boards.
“I thought Kyle did the things he needed to do,” GSW coach Chris Gibson said. “Blake really rebounded the ball well for us.”
“We played good defense. In the beginning we were sloppy,” Robison said. “But we ended up playing good defense.”
GSW started the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run to turn a 32-26 lead into a 41-26 cushion with 4:40 to play.
Horrie had four of those points on two drives to the basket, and Austin Kavanaugh had the other five points in that stretch off the bench.
“I never sensed there was great flow to the game,” Gibson said. “We changed defenses, tried to give them different looks. Maybe that’s why the flow was a little off. We were able to keep them off balance and make things difficult for them.”
Morgan Park Academy (8-17) closed to within 30-26, but couldn’t trim the deficit any lower.
Forward Nick Boarden had 10 points and seven rebounds. Jack Costello scored eight points off the bench.
“Defensively, they took us out of everything we wanted to do,” Morgan Park Academy coach Scott Fredericks said. “Our penetration wasn’t there like it normally is. They clogged the lane with some big bodies.”