Wesleyan hoops team has shot at history

Even in a county on a run of high school basketball success, the Wesleyan girls stand out.

This season, the Wolves can do something only one other team in Georgia has ever done.

Wesleyan, which won its fifth straight girls state championship last March, can match the Hart County girls' record of six consecutive state championships from 1989-94.

The regular season opens this week and Gwinnett as a whole also has a streak going. At least one team from the county has won a state title for 13 consecutive years.

Don't bet on the streak ending.

The Wesleyan girls were the only Gwinnett team to win a state title last season after the county claimed a record five -- three girls and two boys -- in 2010 and four in 2011. But Buford, now in Class AAA, played Lovett for the Class AA title, while the Norcross and North Gwinnett girls reached the semifinals.

How dominant has Gwinnett been in recent years? All told, Gwinnett teams have won 34 state titles since 2000. Both the Norcross boys and girls won state titles in 2011 and Wesleyan pulled off the double for a second time the year before.

"Our goal is always to win the state championship," Wesleyan coach Jan Azar said. "But each season is different. There is enough pressure as it is. We're not thinking about what happened before or a streak."

With the move to six classes from five, the Wolves will be competing in Class AA rather than A this season, but their first title during the recent run was at that level.

Wesleyan has won nine titles in the past 11 years, four in Class AA.

Lovett is back to defend its Class AA title from last season and in the same five-team Region 6-AA with Wesleyan and Greater Atlanta Christian.

As far as streaks ago, the Collins Hill girls, with Maya Moore, won three straight titles from 2005 through 2007 and the Norcross boys won three in row from 2006 through 2008.

Now the Wesleyan girls will get a chance to match the ultimate streak of consecutive state championships.

The Wolves open the season at the North Forsyth tournament on Saturday and it will be a busy first week for Gwinnett teams.

The first games in the county will be at Collins Hill on Tuesday, with Central Gwinnett visiting. Then tournament plays takes over.

The Norcross girls host the Lady Blue Invitational and the first night on Wednesday will be capped by a game between the Blue Devils and McEachern. The Indians won the Class AAAAA state title last year, beating Norcross in the semifinals. The Blue Devils had won the previous two state championships.

The 16th annual Parkview Tip-Off begins on Thursday with the host teams playing, and both the boys and girls fields are loaded. The boys teams include four-time Class AAAA state champion Miller Grove, which opens against McEachern on Saturday, and Greater Atlanta Christian. Joining the Parkview girls, which reached the Class AAAAA semifinals last season, are Class AA champ Lovett, Mill Creek, GAC and St. Pius.

Berkmar will be the site of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Saturday and the Jared Cook Classic at North Gwinnett and the Archer Classic also begin that day. The North, Peachtree Ridge and Mill Creek boys play games on the first night of the Jared Cook showcase.