Staff Photo: John Bohn Wesleyan's Lauren Fereking (4) shoots over Thomasville's Danisha Jones (44) during the fourth period of a Class AA state tournament semifinal girls basketball game played in Millidgeville on Friday. Wesleyan defeated Thomasville 83-34.
MILLEDGEVILLE -- Wesleyan is one victory away from tying the record of six consecutive state championships set by the Hart County girls two decades ago.
That victory may not come easily though.
Ahead next Friday in Macon is unbeaten Laney, led by 6-foot-4 Baylor signee Khadijah Cave. But can Laney handle the Wesleyan press?
Thomasville certainly couldn't in the semifinals. No other team in the Class AA state tournament has been able to either.
Katie Frerking scored 29 points and Wesleyan forced 36 turnovers in an 83-34 rout Friday night at the Centennial Center on the Georgia College and State University campus.
The Wolves (27-4) won their first two tournament games by 56 and 48 points and beat Thomasville (26-3) by 49 after a 17-point victory at Calhoun in the quarterfinals.
Asked about facing Laney in the state championship game next Friday at 3 p.m. in the Macon Centreplex, Wesleyan coach Jan Azar didn't want to look that far ahead.
"We're going to enjoy this for a little while," she said with a smile.
But with a week to prepare, Wesleyan is sure to be ready for Laney (30-0) and Cave, who had 31 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in a 67-44 semifinal victory over previously unbeaten Kendrick.
"I don't like having a week between games during the season," Azar said. "But I don't know if it will be good or bad for the championship game. We've never had it before. Ask me afterwards."
Laney had lost to the eventual state champion in the Class AA semifinals the past four seasons and has never won a GSHA girls title. Wesleyan has won nine state in 11 years.
The past four came in Class A, but the Wolves are used to winning in Class AA as well although Wesleyan is the smallest school in the classification.
"It would be really fun to win another state championship and I think we can do it," Frerking said. "We take a lot of pride in our tradition at Wesleyan."
Frerking, who has signed with Auburn, missed her freshman year because of knee surgery, but was a part of the past two state titles and is the focal point of this season's quest.
The 6-foot-1 senior is much more than just a scorer. She had 10 rebounds, six steals, three blocked shots and two assists in addition to her 29 points against Thomasville.
"I knew when Katie was in the fifth or sixth grade that she could be this good," Azar said. "I don't know when Katie figured it out. But I knew."
Frerking has plenty of talent around her, too, and it was all on display against overmatched Thomasville.
Wesleyan led 9-1 before the game was two minutes old and increased from a 25-12 lead at the end of the first quarter to 40-22 at halftime.
Thomasville, which trailed by as many as 22 points twice in the second quarter couldn't handle the Wolves' press, committing 16 first-half turnovers.
Frerking scored 11 points in the first quarter and had 13 points and three steals by halftime. Ten played for the Wolves in the first half and nine scored, with Kendra Talley coming off the bench for six points and Cara Mia Tsirigos scoring four and grabbing five rebounds.
Bree Brown was Thomasville's only offense, scoring 12 first-half points. When she drew her fourth foul early in the third quarter, Wesleyan and Frerking completely took over.
Frerking had 14 points in the quarter as the Wolves outscored Thomasville 24-5 to take a 64-27 lead into the shortened fourth quarter. Brown soon fouled out without a second-half point and Wesleyan had the lopsided victory as 11 of 13 Wolves scored.
Landyn Duley, Nicki McDonald and Talley each had eight points. Brittany Stevens scored seven to go with four assists and Paige Mosley had six points, four assists and four blocked shots. McDonald and Talley both had three steals.
More steals will be needed as Wesleyan goes for a record-tying state title next Friday against Laney.
"The press is our game and we pride ourselves in playing our game and not worrying about the other team's game," Frerking said. "Hopefully we can force the tempo and counteract [Laney's] size. It's definitely a factor."
But Wesleyan is used to be up to all challenges. You don't win state title after state title otherwise.