The Class AA girls basketball showdown between No. 1 Wesleyan and No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian showed the rest of the state a couple of things. Wesleyan, state champions the last five years, remains the team to beat. However, the move up in classification may make it a little more challenging for the Wolves.
On Friday night Wesleyan beat Greater Atlanta Christian 74-63 at the GAC Long Center in Norcross. Wesleyan (13-3) was on the verge of running away with the game a couple of times, but GAC (13-2) had enough skill to keep the game within reach until the end.
“We looked at this game as a good measuring stick,” said GAC coach Cal Boyd said. “It was a good midpoint check. It was an important game for a lot of reasons – No. 1 vs. No. 2, two schools only five miles apart, both in the same region.”
Wesleyan was led by Katie Frerking, an Auburn commitment, who had 23 points. Sophomore Nikki McDonald added 22 and Stevens scored 13. GAC was led by Cosette Mahre with 17 points, Brianna Cummings with 14 points and eight rebounds, and CiiCii Buford with 14.
It looked like Wesleyan was going to have its way with GAC after the Wolves used an 8-2 run to take a 17-9 lead after one quarter. The Spartans even pushed it up to an 11-point advantage (21-10) early in the third quarter.
That’s when GAC made its run. Sparked by the outside shooting of Mahre, who had three 3-pointers, the Spartans charged ahead to take a 26-25 lead with 1:39 left in the half, although Wesleyan led 32-30 at the break.
“I felt like we were in a hurry early, taking some quick shots, which is their strategy,” Boyd said. “We finally settled down and took some better shots in the second quarter.”
The Wolves regained the momentum in the third period. Stevens, the point guard, completed a three-point play to give Wesleyan a 42-34 edge, which it eventually pushed to 11 points. GAC’s Cummings sparked a revival and cut the lead to 61-55 with 2:40 remaining.
“We made some mental mistakes and Wesleyan is a smart team. When you make mental mistakes against them, they’re going to make you pay,” Boyd said.
But GAC had to start fouling and Wesleyan didn’t budge. The Wolves were 13-for-16 during the final stretch and never allowed the Spartans to get closer.
“I think we were around the basket more in the second half. We went to the basket more,” Azar said. “And we made our free throws.”
Wesleyan will have little time to enjoy the game. The Wolves play Class A No. 1 Southwest Atlanta Christian on Saturday. They have a return date with GAC on Jan. 19.
“Iron sharpens iron,” said GAC coach Cal Boyd. “I think both teams are going to continue to get better. And we’re going to play them more times.”
Wesleyan (74): K. Frerking 23, Stevens 13, McDonald 22, Edwards 3, Mosley 3, Tsirigos 2, L. Frerking 2, Duley 4, Booker 2, Talley.
GAC (63): Means 6, Cummings 14, Buford 14, Hill 6, Mahre 17, Miller 6, Adams, Permanter, Brody.
Halftime: Wesleyan 32-30