Photo: Josh Martindale. Wesleyan's Griffin Schamp (21) goes up for a shot over Providence Christian's Matt Cleveland (3) during Saturday's game at Marietta High School.
MARIETTA -- Two upsets in the Region 7-A basketball tournament left the Wesleyan boys with a harder draw in the state tournament. But the losses may have ended up helping the Wolves much more than they hurt.
"It sent a much clearer message to these guys than I ever could," Wesleyan coach Skip Matherly said. "That message is, 'Nothing is promised to you.' ... We've refocused now."
Wesleyan, ranked No. 4 in Class A at the end of the regular season, had to enter the state tournament as a No. 4 seed, meaning no home games. But the Wolves won at Gordon Lee and Pace Academy, then won again on a neutral court in the quarterfinals Saturday night at Marietta High School.
Now the Wolves (24-6) are headed back to the Final Four in Macon thanks to the 65-45 victory over Providence Christian.
The Stars (23-7) had been one of the hottest teams in Class A, pulling off back-to-back upsets to win the Region 7-A title and then continuing their late-season and late-game magic in the state tournament.
"We were scared to death of this one," Matherly said. "It is hard to beat a team for the third time."
But that is exactly what Wesleyan did. Providence won 15 of its final 18 games, and all of the losses were to the Wolves.
Now Wesleyan plays No. 3-ranked Wilcox County (26-2) in the state semifinals on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Macon Centreplex.
That's where the Wolves won a Class AA title in 2008, but Griffin Schamp is the only present player who saw action then.
The 6-foot-3 forward has gone from reserve to senior standout. He reached the 1,000-point career milestone in the state tournament opener at Gordon Lee and had a game-high 19 points against Providence to go with seven rebounds and two assists.
Senior point guard Wes Caver had 12 points and four assists, while sophomore Shane Smith contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Andrew Frerking, who had had 30 points in the victory over Pace Academy, scored just five against the Stars, but it didn't matter.
"We don't have a go-to person," Matherly said. "The great thing about this team is our balance. We have a lot of weapons and the players really don't care who scores. They have really bought into that and sold out to each other."
Wesleyan led 21-14 at the end of the first quarter and 35-28 at halftime before breaking the game open. The Wolves had a 19-10 edge in the third quarter and pulled away as four Providence players eventually fouled out.
Freshman Charlie Scott was able to keep the Stars in the game for awhile, hitting four 3-pointers en route to 14 points. But Providence's only other double-figure scorer was Peter Hage with 13.