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Wilkins leads Wolves to region title

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

ATLANTA — Not having lost since before Christmas, the No. 1-ranked Wesleyan girls appear poised for a fourth straight state-title run.

The Wolves, who moved up to No. 23 nationally in the latest ESPN/Powerade Fab 50, increased their winning streak to 16 with a 79-50 victory over St. Francis in the Region 5-A championship game on Saturday at Pace Academy.

Wesleyan is 26-2, with the losses coming in the Crescent Bank Holiday Classic in Myrtle Beach against South Carolina power Spring Valley and defending Class AAAAA state champ Norcross. Spring Valley is No. 15 nationally and Norcross is No. 42 in the ESPN rankings.

St. Francis, ranked No. 3 in Class A, fell to 23-3 — all the losses coming against Wesleyan. The Wolves are 10-0 all-time against St. Francis and crushed the Knights 92-45 in the state quarterfinals a year ago.

Holli Wilkins — one of three Wesleyan players named to the all-region team — keyed the championship victory with 20 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and four assists.

“Holli has really stepped up and is playing very well,” Wolves coach Jan Azar said.

St. Francis scored the game’s first six points and led 18-15 after the first quarter. Then Wesleyan opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run and the Knights unraveled against the Wolves’ press.

Wesleyan outscored St. Francis 30-8 in the period for a 45-26 halftime lead and was up 60-39 after three periods.

Grace Leah Baughn — Wesleyan’s only senior — scored 10 points, while Jordan Frazier had six steals and eight points. They joined Wilkins on the all-region team.

Ten players scored for Wesleyan, with eight of them getting at least six points. St. Francis had just four players score.

Keyona Hayes led St. Francis with 20 points. China Henderson scored 16 and Anntionette Brown added 11.

Wesleyan will open state tournament action Friday at home.

“This is a different team from last year, but a better pressing team,” Azar said. “And we are just so deep. If we get in foul trouble, it doesn’t really hurt us that much.”