Armuchee Girls vs. Wesleyan

Armuchee’s Rebekah Hammond goes up for a shot against Wesleyan during Wednesday night’s game.

Contributed photo

NORCROSS — Having an extra day to prepare for top-ranked Wesleyan didn’t turn out to be much of a benefit for the Armuchee girls.

Truth is, even a month might not have been long enough.

It’s basically impossible to simulate Wesleyan’s quickness and height, both of which were on display Wednesday night when the Lady Wolves stormed past Armuchee, 85-29, in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament.

Wesleyan’s superstar guard Katie Ferking, an Auburn signee, poured in 35 points for the Lady Wolves, who certainly seemed to be primed to continue their annual tradition of winning state championships.

“They are the best all-around team I’ve ever played against,” said Armuchee point guard JessAnn Nix. “They’re going to go far.”

Wesleyan has captured state titles in eight of the past nine seasons.

The Lady Wolves won the Class A championship in each of the past four seasons before being moved back up into Class AA this year — and the transition to a higher classification doesn’t seemed to have fazed the Lady Wolves.

Last week, they won the Region 6-AA tournament (which is generally considered one of the best regions in the state) and they built on that momentum in a big way during Wednesday’s state opener against Armuchee.

Wesleyan opened the game with a 16-2 run that was fueled by a suffocating full-court press that rarely allowed Armuchee to get the ball past half-court.

After the initial rush, Armuchee managed to essentially trade baskets with Wesleyan for the next five minutes, and trailed 25-11 after a jumper by freshman Rebekah Hammond early in the second quarter. But the Lady Wolves quickly broke the game wide open with another 16-2 run that featured 11 points from Ferking.

The surge gave Wesleyan a 41-13 lead, and they eventually carried a 50-17 lead into the locker room.

Wesleyan continued to increase the advantage throughout the second half, and 10 players reached the scoring column by game’s end.

Joining Ferking in double figures was Keeyna Edwards with 10 points.

Armuchee, making its first state-tourney appearance since 2010, was led by Hammond with seven points.

Jordan Burkett and Mary Bess Skinner added six each for the Lady Indians.

Armuchee coach Michelle Arp, like Nix, was more than impressed with Wesleyan.

“They are the best high school team I’ve seen,” said Arp.

Wednesday’s game was originally scheduled to be played on Tuesday, but was pushed back a day so that the Wesleyan girls and boys could host a doubleheader. (The Wesleyan boys lost to Dade County in overtime later on Wednesday night).

With Armuchee’s loss, the 7-AA girls teams finished with a 1-3 record against the 6-AA teams.

Top-seeded Calhoun downed Westminster on Tuesday, but No. 2 seeded Model lost to defending state champion Lovett, 47-37, and No. 3-seeded Dade County lost to GAC, 68-30.

“It was a tough draw to be matched up with this region (6-AA),” said Arp. “But our girls didn’t back down tonight, and they played hard. This game didn’t (define) our season.”

Added Nix: “(Making the state tourney) was a big move for us. People didn’t predict us to be here.”

The loss ended the careers of Armuchee seniors Heather Shore, Karli Boozer, Natalie Shoemaker and Skinner.

“We losing four good seniors,” said Arp. “All four have contributed to this program, and that’s what they wanted to do.”