Class A Private girls: Mount Paran Christian 66, Wesleyan 37

What looked on paper like one of the best matchups in the first round of the GHSA girls basketball playoffs turned out to be not much of a contest.

Second-ranked Mount Paran Christian got 46 points from 6-footers Kara Dunn and Jessica Fields, using their size advantage and a smothering defense to control the game from start to finish, and rolled to a 66-37 victory over No. 6 Wesleyan in a Class A Private game Wednesday night in Kennesaw.

Mount Paran, the Region 7 champion, moved on to a second-round matchup this weekend against eighth-ranked Deerfield-Windsor, which advanced with a 67-23 victory over St. Vincent’s. Mount Paran (21-4) is one win away from its sixth quarterfinal appearance in nine years.

Wesleyan’s streak of 21 consecutive first-round victories came to an end. The Wolves (13-10) were the No. 4 seed from Region 5, the toughest in Class A Private, behind No. 1 Holy Innocents’, No. 4 Hebron Christian and No. 5 Galloway. Wesleyan has won 13 state championships since 2002.

“Early on when I saw the brackets, I knew we were going to have to take on the fourth-place team from Region 5, which could be a top-five team,” Mount Paran coach Stephanie Dunn said. “But we just said we’ve got to stick to what we do, come out and play smart, play hard, and I felt like we would give ourselves an opportunity.”

Kara Dunn, the Region 7 player of the year, scored eight points in the first quarter as the Eagles built a 20-8 lead but picked up her third foul with 7:13 to play in the second quarter and went to the bench for the remainder of the half.

Wesleyan was unable to take advantage of her absence, as Fields took over the scoring load. The freshman scored eight of Mount Paran’s nine points in the period, and the lead grew to 29-13 by halftime.

“We’ve watched her mature before our eyes,” Stephanie Dunn said of Fields. “But she’s worked hard. It doesn’t just happen. She puts in the work, she has a great attitude and is just so coachable. With those things, she has no ceiling.”

Mount Paran broke the game open in the third quarter, outscoring the Wolves 18-6 behind seven points each from Fields and Dunn to increase the lead to 47-19. A short jumper by Dunn midway through the fourth quarter gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the night at 60-26, and Wesleyan never got closer than 27 points the rest of the way.

Fields finished with a game-high 24 points, and Dunn had 22. Katelyn Dunning made three 3-pointers and had 11 points.

Chit-Chat Wright kept the Wolves as close as she could early with 10 of the team’s 13 first-half points. She finished with 17. Desiree Davis added 16, including 12 in the fourth quarter.

“I felt like that was an extremely tough first-round matchup, but I told the girls, ‘Let’s love it and let’s stay sharp,’” Stephanie Dunn said. “We’re going to play tough teams. We’ve done it all season. We’ve played top-10 teams from every division, even in Florida, so that was our goal, that we wouldn’t face anything that we haven’t seen.”