When the Wesleyan and Buford girls basketball teams played previously this season, they packed Holy Innocents’ gym for what otherwise might have been a ho-hum, fifth-place holiday tournament game at 9:45 a.m., with many fans unaware on vacation.
But Saturday’s 5 p.m. rematch at Buford might be a frenzied atmosphere, at home in Gwinnett County and with the season reaching its crescendo.
“On a Saturday evening, who knows,” Wesleyan coach Jan Azar said. “(Buford) is a great atmosphere for girls basketball. It definitely will be an exciting game.”
If you make only one girls basketball game this season, this might be it. Wesleyan (16-4) is ranked No. 1 in Class AA and five-time defending state champion. Buford (14-3) is top-ranked in AAA and winner of state three of the last four years.
How close might it be? Consider this: Both teams are the Wolves.
“The place will be packed,” Azar said.
Last time, Wesleyan won 59-53 in a see-saw battle, its third straight over Buford and 25th in the teams’ last 27 meetings. Wesleyan led by double digits early, then Buford did by nine in the fourth quarter, before Wesleyan’s Cara Mia Tsirigos put her team ahead for good with a 3-pointer with two minutes left and teammate Katie Frerking iced it with five free throws in the final minute.
“It essentially came down to who was going to score last,” Azar said. “Our depth paid off against them in the fourth quarter.”
Wesleyan enters Saturday’s game led by Frerking, who averages 20 points a game, and Brittany Stevens, the team’s leader in assists. Nikki McDonald, Paige Mosley and Keevana Edwards have provided strong supporting roles.
Buford comes in paced by Kaela Davis and Kristina Nelson, who bucketed 24 and 10 apiece in Tuesday’s 66-24 win over Banks County.
The last time Buford beat Wesleyan was 51-49 in 2010 and 76-57 in ‘09.
Here are other girls games to watch this week:
– Laney at Screven County: Averaging 68 points a game, double opponents’ total, the No. 2 Wildcats (20-0) put their unbeaten streak on the line Friday
– Heard County at Kendrick: The third-ranked Cherokees (18-0) attempt to remain unbeaten Friday against the Braves, whom they’ve beaten twice consecutively.
– Hapeville Charter at Greater Atlanta Christian: GAC’s fourth-ranked Spartans (16-5) try to halt their three-game losing streak and stay within striking distance of Region 6-AA leader Wesleyan, which it visits Tuesday.
– Calhoun at Pepperell: The No. 5 Yellow Jackets (17-1), winners of 16 straight since losing to North Cobb, try to become 10-0 in 7-AA on Friday.