MACON - Wesleyan's girls clearly were not at their best throughout their Class A state semifinal basketball game against Randolph-Clay.
However, a dominant second quarter was all the top-ranked Wolves needed to move to within one more win of another state championship.
Grace Leah Baughn, Logan Morris and Kennington Groff combined to score 18 points as Wesleyan outscored No. 6 Randolph-Clay 27-8 in the second quarter, allowing the Wolves to cruise to an 84-59 victory Wednesday at the Macon Centreplex.
The win gives Wesleyan (28-4) a chance to play for its fifth title in the last six years when it takes on Savannah Country Day in the finals at 11 a.m. Saturday.
But coach Jan Azar sure wasn't convinced her team's play was championship caliber despite the 25-point victory.
"We played an excellent second quarter," Azar said. "I was not as pleased with the rest of the game. I just didn't think we played the defense we need to play to win the state championship. We're going to have to improve on that."
Wesleyan's shooting left a lot of room for improvement in the first quarter as the Wolves hit just three shots from the floor in the first six minutes of the game.
And with Randolph-Clay (27-5) holding a big advantage on the boards, it spelled trouble early.
Destiny Mitchell finished off a fast break with a layup to cap a 9-2 run that vaulted the Red Devils to their biggest lead at 12-9 with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
"I think we were badly outrebounded the whole game," Azar said of Randolph-Clay's 47-35 advantage on the boards. "We did not want to get caught up having to get set on our outside shot. We've got to be able to take it to the basket and have putbacks and second and third chances and we've got to do a better job of that."
Fortunately for the Wolves, they didn't need that part of their game beginning late in the first quarter.
First, it was junior Erin Hall who began to heat up. The 5-foot-9 guard hit a 3-pointer from each wing to help Wesleyan finish the opening quarter on a run of seven straight points to take a 16-12 lead.
She then hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game - part of her 16 points - 10 seconds into the second quarter, but Wesleyan's lead was still only 19-14 when she left the game with her second foul with 6:48 left in the first half.
By that time, several other Wesleyan players began to find their shooting touches and the Wolves' defense began to tighten up, forcing several of Randolph-Clay's 17 first-half turnovers.
Baughn connected on a stickback with 6:24 left in the half and Morris connected on a pair of 3-pointers during an 18-2 Wesleyan run.
With the Wolves connecting on four 3-pointers in the second quarter, they outscored the Red Devils 27-8 en route to a 43-20 advantage by halftime.
"We were kind of nervous coming in," said Morris, who finished with 12 points, five rebounds and three steals. "Just getting our minds in the right place was a really big help."
The Wolves pushed their lead to as much as 27 midway through the third quarter, but Randolph-Clay refused to quit.
Riding the momentum of Mitchell, who posted game highs of 32 points and 15 rebounds, the Red Devils reeled off 11 straight points and pulled as close as 55-40 late in the third quarter.
However, Wesleyan continued to knock down shots, aided by pinpoint passing from Aysha McKenzie, who finished with a game-high 11 assists, to put the game away. McKenzie also had four steals in the game.
Anne Marie Armstrong scored 14 of her team-high 18 points in the second half and added eight rebounds, five assists, four steals and four blocked shots. Also reaching double figures for Wesleyan was Baughn with 15 points.
Asha Alexander joined Mitchell in double figures for Randolph-Clay with 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds.