The Lady Blue Devils (22-6) have been there before.
In each of the past two seasons — while in Class A — Bremen has been knocked out by the top-seeded and top-ranked Lady Wolves (24-4), who went on to win four straight Class A titles and a Class AA title to go with eight overall in the past nine years.
"I think we've played them enough the past two years now that we're sort of over that awe stage. We've been in that gym twice. It's a nice facility over there, we've seen the banners and we've seen them play. We've watched them on film and we're ready to play. We're convinced we can play with them and win a ball game," Bremen coach Kathy Matthews said.
In the opening round, the No. 10 Lady Blue Devils took advantage of their first home state playoff game in five years with a 69-42 win against Union County on Tuesday. Now, they aren't satisfied with just making it to the second round — Bremen is ready to get over that hump.
"We'll take a 'W' any time we can get it and any time you get a 'W' in the state tournament, it's huge. But we're going after another one [tonight]. That's what we're preparing for [Thursday] is going in to beat Wesleyan. It's going to be a challenge, but anything's possible," Matthews said.
The biggest key for Bremen success will be finding a way to stop Wesleyan guard Katie Frerking. The 6-foot-1 senior averages 19.2 points per game while shooting almost 52 percent overall from the floor and 55 percent on 2-point attempts. In the Lady Wolves' first-round win, Frerking scored a career-high 35 points in the 85-29 rout of Armuchee.
"She's one of those that I don't think you can stop her, you just have to contain her. We have to rely on our defensive players, Kalia and Jamia [Johnson], to step up and they will. They know that this is their last shot at it and we're expecting to do great things," Matthews said.
Bremen has looked at both several of the games the Lady Wolves have won and the few that they have lost to get an idea of what it takes to beat a team of that caliber. That success has come when defenses have been able to take Wesleyan out of its rhythm and force it to make mistakes, take bad shots and turn it over.
Even without the success in the first two attempts to knock Wesleyan out of the tournament, there have been valuable lessons learned. This group has the experience of playing on that stage and is ready to put up a fight.
"They know what to expect, they know the type of pressure that we're going to face every time coming up the floor, full-court pressure, pressing and once we get the ball across halfcourt, it's not going to let up. They have a very aggressive man-to-man defense. We've played in it and we know what to expect," Matthews said.
"This group has put in a lot of hours, and it doesn't matter the hours, but what you put into the hours and we've worked hard. We just want to go in there and give it our best shot. It's like I told them, if we go in there and play our basketball game, it's going to be interesting."
In the last two years, the Lady Blue Devils have been part of a tough Region 6-A, but in Region 5-AA this year they got a look at another top team in Class AA in Kendrick. Even though Bremen dropped both games, the regular-season matchup gave Kendrick its closest game of the undefeated season.
Tonight, Bremen will try to draw not only on the experience of the past two years against Wesleyan, but also the experiences against a similar Kendrick team this season.
The first two trips weren't kind to the Lady Blue Devils, as Wesleyan knocked them out with a 91-27 win in 2011 and 71-34 last season. But if there is a group that can overcome the Georgia basketball giants, Matthews believes this is the one. Not only is it a veteran bunch with nine seniors, but it has been part of the program over the past three, four years.
"This is the group. We've been together now for four years with most of them and have been working, getting better and better not only every year, but each game. They know the handwriting is on the wall for nine of them — one more loss and it's all over," Matthews said. "I don't want it to come to an end and I know they don't, either. We're going to try to prevent it and prolong it that much longer."