DACULA — Wesleyan’s girls basketball team won its showdown with the host school Monday night, setting up a Dacula Tipoff Classic championship game matchup with a familiar foe.
The Wolves defeated Dacula 57-46 and reached Tuesday’s 6 p.m. title game against Buford, a team that is always on the schedule. Those two will battle for a championship Tuesday, then face off again later in the season in what is typically a hard-fought, non-region game.
“Yeah, we get a little bonus (of playing Buford twice),” Wesleyan head coach Carolyn Whitney said. “They’re going to make us better. Every team we’ve played so far has made us better one way or another. That was the whole reason why I have this schedule in place.”
Wesleyan (3-0) had to first get by fellow unbeaten Dacula (4-1), as well as a tough first-round game with Norcross this past Saturday.
Dacula hung close with Wesleyan for the bulk of the first half Monday until the Wolves dominated the last half of the second quarter. They closed the half on an 11-2 run, beginning with back-to-back baskets from Avyonce Carter and ending with a big 3-pointer by Kensie Pierce in the waning seconds for a 33-20 edge at the break.
“The second quarter I felt like we played really well defensively and and we did a good job of taking it possession by possession,” Whitney said. “We were in the gap. We were in help. We did a good job boxing out and we were out running in transition, which was good for us.”
The lead grew as big as 17 points in the third quarter, which ended with Wesleyan up 45-31. Dacula fought back within seven points with just over a minute left, but couldn’t get closer.
“I feel like we did a good job in the third quarter and then late in the fourth, kind of what we’ve been doing in the fourth quarter the last couple of games, we’re just kind of getting lackadaisical with the ball,” Whitney said. “We just need to take care of business. Don’t mess around. Do your job. Take it possession by possession. We’re having empty possessions. We’re being careless with the ball. We just need better focus overall.”
Carter was a force for Wesleyan with 24 points and eight rebounds, and Paige Lyons scored 16 in the win. Alyssa Phillip had seven points and 12 rebounds, and Lanni Brown added five points.
Lazaria Spearman had 16 points for Dacula.