MACON, Ga. — A hopeful pass sailed toward its desired target, only for Wesleyan’s Katie Frerking to leap in front and take it.
For Laney, it was time to backpedal or chase. Again.
Frerking and the Wesleyan press proved to be too powerful, leading the Lady Wolves to a 76-43 win Friday in the Georgia High School Association Class AA state title game at the Macon Centreplex. Laney had 31 turnovers.
Too many times, Laney lost the ball. Too many times, Wesleyan had easy layups.
In a 1:55 stretch that spanned the second and third quarters, Wesleyan went on an 11-0 run that gave the Lady Wolves a 36-25 lead.
The tight game was no more; a rout was just starting.
“They had a tremendous trap in the second half and we lost our composure,” Laney coach Otis Smart said. “We lost composure, and that was it.”
Frerking had 11 steals in the game, barely missing a triple-double with her 28 points and eight rebounds.
The senior said the Lady Wolves (28-4) used on a zone press – a change from the man-to-man defense – to swamp Laney in the second half. With height and control, the six-time defending state champions cruised to another crown.
“It’s just anticipation a lot of times,” Frerking said. “You can read their eyes and see where they’re going to throw it. The whole system we run is about taking risks, so sometimes you just have to go for it.”
The turnovers piled up – 11 in the third alone – as Laney dropped further behind. That was a big difference from the first half.
After some issues with Wesleyan’s press in the first quarter, the Lady Wildcats (30-1) sometimes threw passes over it in the second, with Aliyah Collier coming down with catches. Laney also won the rebounding battle, grabbing 17 offensive boards in the opening half. the Lady Wolves had just 20 total rebounds up to that point.
Khadijiah Cave, Simone Smith and Wynetta Wright all finished with at least eight rebounds. Cave posted a game-high 12, and she added 10 points.
Frerking shot 14-for-21, with many looks near the rim. Teammate Brittany Stevens was another consistent finisher, making six of her 10 attempts. Stevens had 14 points, seven rebounds and one stretch where she put in seven points in a row late in the third period to make it 53-33.
There would be no comeback for the Lady Wildcats, who broke free of the four-year run of semifinal defeats a week ago but didn’t win in the final.
“It was awesome,” Smith said about the year. “We had a season of 30-0 – that’s a good record. Many years we came to the final four, and we lost. So (making the championship game), that’s a blessing.”