Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Sydni Means (1) attempts an offensive rebound while defended by Weselyan's Nikki McDonald (20) during Friday's game played at GAC.
NORCROSS -- In two years, Nikki McDonald might be where Wesleyan senior standout Katie Frerking is now.
McDonald certainly offered a timely preview of her potential Friday night.
"We weren't expecting that from No. 20," Greater Atlanta Christian coach Cal Boyd said of the 6-foot sophomore.
McDonald backed Frerking's 23 points with 22 of her own and visiting Wesleyan lived up to its billing as the top team in Class AA with a 74-63 victory over GAC at the Long Forum.
"She still has things to work on, like every young player," said Frerking, an Auburn signee. "But she is going to be really good. She's already helping us a lot."
The Wolves used their full-court pressure and a depth advantage to wear down the Spartans, forcing 25 turnovers while improving to 13-3 overall and 2-0 in Region 6-AA.
McDonald had three steals and six rebounds to go with the breakout offensive effort, her all-around game rivaled that of the 6-foot-1 Frerking, who had six rebounds and three assists.
"Nikki keeps improving and a lot of that improvement has been on defense and in rebounding," Wesleyan coach Jan Azar said. "We knew she could score. She has that ability."
The Spartans (13-2, 1-1) came into the showdown with a superior record. But all three of Wesleyan's losses are against out-of-state powers and the Wolves -- winners of five straight state titles -- proved to be the more battle-tested team.
"They capitalize on every mistake you make," Boyd said. "That is the mark of a good team."
Wesleyan had used 10 players before the game was six minutes old and had nine score in the game.
"We always want to force the action with our defense and play up-tempo basketball," Frerking said. "We have a lot of players and we use them."
GAC, meanwhile, has a limited bench, although they got a lift against Wesleyan from freshman Brenna Miller's six points.
"They are going to try to wear us down with their press and depth for sure," Boyd said leading up to the game.
That's exactly what happened.
Down 52-43 going into the final quarter, GAC got within 61-55 with just under three minutes to play. But CiCi Buford and Jasmine Hill fouled out soon afterwards and Wesleyan sealed the victory at the foul line.
Senior point guard Brittany Stevens had 13 points and six assists for Wesleyan, which was 22-for-29 at the foul line.
Cosette Mahre had 17 for GAC, hitting a trio of 3-pointers. Brianna Cummings and Buford each scored 14, with Cummings adding eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Sydni Means had eight assists and five steals.
Wesleyan closed the first quarter on an 8-2 run to go up 17-9 and increased the lead to 21-10 early in the second quarter. But GAC went on a 16-4 run sparked by Mahre's two 3-pointers and took the lead at 26-25 on a fastbreak basket by Miller.
The Wolves then went on a 7-0 run to go back up by six points before GAC closed the margin to 32-30 at intermission on Miller's rebound basket at the buzzer.
Mahre had 10 of her 13 first-half points in the second quarter. McDonald led Wesleyan had the break with nine points, seven coming in the first quarter.
GAC had 12 turnovers at halftime, with eight coming in the first quarter. Wesleyan turned the ball over eight times.
Frerking scored 10 points in the third quarter as Wesleyan again went up by 11 at 52-41 late in the period. The Spartans committed 11 turnovers in the quarter, including seven in the opening three minutes of the second half.
Cumming, held to six points through three quarters, finally got going with eight points in the fourth for GAC. But Frerking and McDonald each scored seven points in the period.
The teams will play at Wesleyan on Jan. 29 and then will likely meet for a third time in the Region 6-AA tournament. A fourth meeting in the state tournament is also a possibility.
GAC boys 71, Wesleyan 29
Cam Boyd hit six 3-pointers and scored 20 points as the GAC boys routed Wesleyan 71-29 to improve their record to 14-3 overall and 2-0 in Region 6-AA.
Troy Morrison had 18 points and Isaiah Wilkins scored 15 for the Spartans. GAC played without senior point guard Collin Swinton, whose father died of a heart attack early in the week.
The Spartans led 28-11 at halftime and kept pulling away as Wesleyan fell to 7-9 overall and 1-1 in the region.
Carter Hall led Wesleyan with seven points. Leading scorer Will Clifton was held to four.