NORCROSS — The Wesleyan boys defeated Whitefield Academy for the Class A title a year ago. Now the Wolves will have to play the Wolfpack in the first round of the state tournament Saturday night.
A loss by Wesleyan in the Region 5-A semifinals caused the early showdown between No. 2-ranked Whitefield and the Wolves, which dropped to No. 7 in the coaches’ poll this week.
But Wesleyan (25-4) had a rough journey to the title game a year ago and certainly isn’t afraid of having to go to Whitefield (25-3) on the opening weekend of the state tournament.
“You’ve got to play them sometime, so it might as well be now,” Wesleyan coach Skip Matherly said. “It’s fine with me to get them early.”
Wesleyan looked up to the challenge in a 79-48 rout of visiting Warren County on Tuesday night at Yancey Gymnasium in a new Class A play-in game as Andrew Frerking had 19 points to lead nine Wolves who scored.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Frerking said of facing Whitefield. “It should be a great game.”
“I kind of like it,” added fellow senior Ty Teague. “We have to beat them sometime anyway.”
Teague had seven assists to go with 11 points in the easy win over Warren County (13-14), while Frerking added six rebounds and three assists to his game-high scoring total. Hudson Price scored 12 points for the Wolves to give Wesleyan four players with eight points or more.
Wesleyan rolled despite being without Shane Smith, one of its leaders in scoring, rebounds and assists. The junior was ill.
Warren County was also shorthanded. Three players missed the team bus.
Wesleyan’s players were missing something themselves in Friday’s 43-39 upset loss to St. Francis — a team they had beaten twice during the regular season.
“I think so,” said Teague when asked if the loss was a wakeup call. “We have to go hard every possession now. Any game could be our last.”
There was no suspense against Warren County. Wesleyan, which has won two state titles in three years, got ahead early and kept pulling away before clearing the bench.
Wesleyan led 6-0 and 15-2 en route to a 19-4 edge after the first quarter and was up 45-19 at halftime. Frerking had 15 points in the first half, while Takim Williams and Price each scored eight.
The lead was 68-37 after three quarters and the mercy rule kicked in, with the final period shortened to six minutes.
Wesleyan beat Whitefield 63-52 for Class A title last season in what was considered an upset. The Wolves are hoping for a repeat a year later.