NORCROSS — The Buford girls came in ranked No. 1 in Class AAA and on a 19-game winning streak. But they had no answer Saturday night for the Wesleyan press or Nikki McDonald.
Wesleyan, ranked No. 1 in Class AA, forced 27 turnovers and McDonald scored 26 points in a 61-39 victory that was hardly the close game expected.
Host Wesleyan (19-2) went on a 30-5 run in the closing 14 minutes of the first half and increased their edge to 27-7 all time over Buford (19-2) with a fifth straight victory in the series between proud girls programs.
The victory was also the 10th in a row this season for Wesleyan, which has a key game at Region 6-AA rival Greater Atlanta Christian on Tuesday.
“We’re a young team and we’ve come a long way with our press since early in the season,” Wesleyan coach Jan Azar said. “It’s been effective for us lately and we played good defense again. It was the difference.”
McDonald, a 5-foot-10 junior, was part of the defensive effort with a game-best five steals and turned in an outstanding offensive effort as well in the final game of the Wesleyan Winter Showcase at Yancey Gymnasium.
McDonald, who came in average 14.3 points per game, hit 10 of 18 shots, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range, and also led all rebounders with 11.
“Nikki has always been a good shooter,” Azar said. “But she’s also doing a lot of the little things well for us now. I like the way she is driving to the basket and she has taken on more of a leadership role this season.”
Buford, which hadn’t lost since its opener at Morgan County, scored the game’s first six points. After that, though, the first half was all Wesleyan as the press took its toll and McDonald rained down 3-pointers.
Wesleyan outscored Buford 20-2 the rest of the first quarter behind 11 points by McDonald and led 30-11 at halftime.
Buford committed 15 turnovers in the first half and McDonald hit four of her first six 3-point attempts en route to 15 points at the break.
Buford battled Wesleyan on nearly even terms in the second half, but the damage had already been done.
Wesleyan led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter and by 25 in the fourth.
Camille Anderson, a 5-foot-8 junior, did all she could to keep Buford in the game, scoring 11 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Bree Horrocks, a 6-foot-5 senior headed to Purdue, had four blocked shots and seven points, the same point total as junior Corey Staples.
Mikala Coombs had 10 points and six rebounds for Wesleyan, while fellow freshman Devyn Lowe had six points and a team-high three assists. Softball standout Landyn Duley, a senior headed to Georgia, also had six points before fouling out. Keevana Edwards, a senior who has signed with Stetson, grabbed six rebounds.
The game was the most lopsided in the series since Wesleyan defeated Buford 64-42 in the 2007 state tournament, when both schools were in Class AA.
Wesleyan has won six straight state titles and 10 overall, while Buford won three straight state championships from 2009 through 2011.
Hoover (Ala.) 53
McEachern, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAAAA, outscored Hoover (Ala.) 37-8 in the first half after falling behind 10-0 and improved to 17-2 with the 75-53 victory at the Wesleyan Winter Showcase.
Te’A Cooper scored 31 points for McEachern, which also got 19 points from Jada Lewis and 10 points from Taylor Gordon.
In the other games, Class A top-ranked Holy Innocents’ — the only Georgia team to defeat Wesleyan this season — routed Hardaway of Columbus 73-40 and North Carolina’s Bishop McGuinness defeated Whitewater 54-31.