ATLANTA — The Wesleyan boys won the Class A state title a year ago despite not having a single home game. This year the Wolves get at least one, but it will be in the new preliminary round.
Upset by St. Francis in the Region 5-A semifinals on Friday, the Wolves had to be content with third place on Saturday as they defeated Providence Christian 72-59 at Pace Academy.
Andrew Frerking scored 25 points and also had nine rebounds and five assists as Wesleyan (24-4) defeated the Stars (19-9) for the third time this season — something the No. 2 state-ranked Wolves couldn’t do against St. Francis.
With nine regions in Class A now, the bottom seeds have to play an extra game. Wesleyan will face the fourth-place finisher from Region 7-A at home on Tuesday, while Providence must play the No. 4 team from Region 8-A.
The Wolves lost twice in the region tournament last season, but won three road games to reach the Final Four in Macon and went on to claim their second state title in three years.
Although Wesleyan graduated several key players from the 2010 state champs, the Wolves have been in the coaches’ Top 10 poll all season — even seeing time at No. 1.
Providence gave Wesleyan a battle most of the way, though, despite playing without two injured regulars.
After Wesleyan scored the game’s first seven points, Providence ran off nine straight and led 19-14 at the end of the first quarter. But the Wolves built as much as a 10-point lead in the second quarter and were up 36-29 at halftime.
The seven-point margin remained the same after the third quarter before Wesleyan pulled away. Ty Teague backed Frerking with 16 points and sophomore Will Clifton came off the bench to score 10.
Alan Skinner led Providence with 14 points. Brent Hansen, Peter Hage and Cole Underwood each scored 11. Wesleyan lost to St. Francis 43-39 on Friday, the victim of ultra-cold shooting. The Wolves had won 48-31 and 57-49 during the regular season.
Frerking and teammate Shane Smith were named to the all-region team along with Hage and Nate Bucher of Providence. Bucher is out with a knee injury.