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Slow second half dooms Wesleyan

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — A team from Georgia had won the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational the past two seasons and three of the last four years.

There won’t be a Georgia champion in the prestigious girls tournament this time, though.

Wesleyan will play Norcross today at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, but not in the title game. Instead the teams will meet at 1:15 p.m. for third place.

Spring Valley — South Carolina’s top Class AAAA team — put on a second-half blitz and defeated previously unbeaten Wesleyan 62-44 in the semifinals Wednesday night.

The Columbia school will play Troy of Fullerton, Calif. for the championship today at 3 p.m.

Spring Valley (12-0) went on an 18-0 run over a six-minute stretch in the second half, turning a 32-30 deficit into a 48-32 lead with just over five minutes to play. Wesleyan never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

“We did everything we wanted to do in the first half and then did nothing in the second half,” Wesleyan coach Jan Azar said. “It’s frustrating.

“We wanted to play Norcross. But in the championship game, not the third place (game).”

The loss ended a 21-game winning streak for Wesleyan, which won its third straight state title last year — the last two in Class A — and had started this season 10-0. Spring Valley was the South Carolina runner-up in Class AAAA last season.

Asia Dozier scored 20 of her 22 points in the second half to lead Spring Valley. She was 11-for-11 from the foul line and had five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and three steals in a strong all-around performance.

Xylina McDaniel, the daughter of former NBA player Xavier McDaniel, scored 16 points for Spring Valley and Robinson had 11 points. Savonia Bryan had a game-best nine rebounds.

Grace Leah Baughn had 15 points for Wesleyan before fouling out late in the game. Jordan Frazier scored 11 for the Wolves. Kaelyn Causwell grabbed eight rebounds, but didn’t score.

Spring Valley shot 47.7 percent to 37.2 percent for Wesleyan and was 17-for-21 at the foul line compared to 6-for-8 by the Wolves. Wesleyan was 0-for-9 on 3-point attempts in the second half.

Wesleyan fell behind 22-15 with six minutes left in the first half after a 6-0 run by Spring Valley, but then went on an 8-0 streak of its own to go up 23-22 two minutes later following 3-pointers by Baughn and Joshlyn Belcher.

It was 26-26 at halftime, with Belcher closing the scoring with Wesleyan’s sixth 3-pointer in 10 first-half attempts. Baughn had nine points at halftime, going 3-for-5 from behind the arc.

McDaniel had eight points in the first half for Spring Valley, while Briana Robinson and Shaquita Walker each scored seven. Spring Valley shot 46.2 percent in the first half and Wesleyan 45.5 percent.

Wesleyan and Norcross have played only once despite being located across the street from each other. Norcross won in the semifinals of the Parkview Tip-Off in 2008.