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Wesleyan's bench scores 18 as depth overwhelms Buford in 60-49 win

NORCROSS -- It is still up for debate if this is the most-talented Wesleyan girls basketball team yet. But one thing is certain.

Coach Jan Azar has been saying all season that this is her deepest team and that was on display for all to see Saturday night against Buford in a battle of multi-year defending state champions.

Holli Wilkins scored 22 points, but Wesleyan got significant contributions from nine players in a 60-49 victory before a jam-packed crowd at Yancey Gymnasium.

Wesleyan's bench outscored Buford's 18-0, leaving no doubt where the annual showdown between the two teams was decided.

In fact, just four players scored for Buford and two of them fouled out in the fourth quarter, when Wesleyan already taken a sizeable lead.

"We got contributions from a lot of different players," Azar said. "It wasn't just two or three off the bench. Everyone did something."

The victory was the 25th in a row at home for Wesleyan, which is 18-3 and ranked No. 1 as usual in Class A. The last home loss was 51-49 to Buford in overtime on Jan. 30, 2010.

Wesleyan avenged that with a 48-37 victory at Buford last season, when it won its fourth straight state title and eighth in 10 years and Buford claimed the Class AA state championship for the third consecutive year.

With Andraya Carter back in the lineup after recovering from a torn ACL, Buford was hoping for another road win at Wesleyan. But it wasn't to be as Buford, ranked No. 4 in Class AA, fell to 14-7.

Wesleyan had just too many different weapons and it showed off its depth early.

Katie Frerking didn't start because of a sprained ankle and Georgia signee Kaelyn Causwell, who would end up playing less than four minutes, drew her second foul 68 seconds into the game. But Wesleyan hit a trio of first-period 3-pointers to take a 13-5 lead and led by as many as 10 points in the second quarter before settling for a 25-19 lead at intermission.

The lead reached 11 points midway in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Cara Mia Tsirigos and a 3-pointer by Taylor Blackmon at the end of the quarter kept it there.

Kaela Davis, who had 17 points, fouled out for Buford with 6:53 to play and a 3-pointer by Brittany Stevens pushed the Wesleyan lead to 46-33 shortly afterwards.

Buford got back within 47-40 on a 3-point play by Carter with 4:22 to play, but Wilkins scored two quick baskets and Wesleyan wasn't threatened after that as Maya Dillard and MacKenzie Darrah fouled out for Buford.

Wesleyan was 24-for-31 at the foul line, with Jordan Frazier going 8-for-8 and Wilkins 7-for-7.

"We count on Holli to score," Azar said. "But she also did a great job on defense and blocking out on the boards against their bigger players."

Frerking, who sprained her right ankle early in the second half against Providence Christian on Friday, entered the game midway through the first quarter and made some key defensive plays despite being limited to two points.

"This game went a lot to her and she was determined to play," said Azar of Frerking, who is second on the team in points, rebounds and assists.

Blackmon and Frazier each had eight points for Wesleyan and Missy Bird scored seven. Frazier had a team-best seven rebounds despite being just 5-foot-4 and also contributed four steals. Stevens led Wesleyan with three assists.

Darrah had 13 points for Buford and Carter, in her fifth game back, scored 11. The only Buford player to score other than Davis, Darrah and Carter was Kristina Nelson, who had eight points.

Buford boys 43, Wesleyan 40

Isaiah Williams hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4.3 seconds left to give the Buford boys, ranked No. 6 in Class AA, a 43-40 victory over Wesleyan.

After Drew Ritter went 1-for-2 at the foul line with 55.6 seconds left to tie the game, Buford (16-5) played for the last shot and Williams, who scored 16 points, made the move pay off after coach Allen Whitehart called a time out with 10.3 seconds remaining. It was Williams' four 3-pointer of the game.

T.J. Shipes had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Buford, while A.J. Davis contributed nine rebounds and four assists to go with five points.

Shane Smith scored 21 points for Wesleyan (13-8). Will Clifton added nine points and Charles Mack had nine rebounds.

Wesleyan closed the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 31-30 lead and was up 36-32 in the fourth quarter. But Buford then went on an 8-0 run to go up by four points itself.

Wesleyan tied the game on Mack's 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer despite having just one basket until the final minute of the second quarter. Wesleyan was 10-for-15 at the foul line and Buford 7-for-9 as the teams combined for just seven baskets -- three 3-pointers -- in the first half.