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Buford boys, girls cruise to Region 7-AAA basketball titles

East Hall boys, girls also playoff bound

POSTED: February 19, 2014 12:04 a.m.

BUFORD— The best basketball in Region 7-AAA is played just inside Gwinnett County.

After posting flawless records throughout region play in the regular season, the Buford basketball teams swept the region tournament championships on Tuesday night in front of a home crowd.

The Lady Wolves topped East Hall 53-21 to earn the region championship, before the Wolves closed out the tournament in style with a 56-29 win over Dawson County in the boys’ title game.

BUFORD BOYS 56, DAWSON COUNTY 29: Coach Allen Whitehart knows how tough it is to win a championship. That’s why he took his Wolves basketball team out for a special dinner before Tuesday night’s region championship game.

“I took them to a nice dinner today because you are never guaranteed a championship,” Whitehart said. “This might be the only one we get all year. It’s a long haul throughout the playoffs.”

Whitehart’s message of making the most of claiming a region championship was well received by his team.

The Wolves never trailed in Tuesday’s win and dominated from the very beginning en route to a second straight region title.

Region 7-AAA Player of the Year D’Marcus Simonds led all scorers with 20 points, while senior Rakim Lubin finished with 16 and all-region selection Matt McMorris contributed five points for Buford.

“Before the game, (Dawson County) was talking that it was the Rakim Lubin show, so I kind of put it on myself to show them it was not just Rock, it was the whole team,” said Simonds, a sophomore.

“I can contribute, Matt can contribute, every one else on the team can contribute.”

Buford (23-5) will now serve as a No. 1 seed in the Class AAA state playoffs and will host a first-round game Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

Dawson County will serve as the No. 2 seed and will also host a first round game.

Buford opened the game on a 7-2 run, before Dawson County quickly closed the score to 8-7. That was the closest the Tigers would get to the Wolves.

Buford closed out the first quarter on a 9-0 run and grabbed a 17-7 lead before building a lead as large as 14 points midway through the second quarter and eventually a 26-14 halftime lead.

Simonds, Lubin and McMorris combined to score all of Buford’s points in the first half, with Simonds leading the way with 14 points.

The opening half was the ultimate difference in the win, led by Buford’s big three.

“They are our leaders,” Whitehart said. “They were the three guys who were called for all-region. They are supposed to carry the load.”

Buford continued to add to its lead in the second half, building a 16-point advantage at the end of the third quarter and eventually a 27-point lead in the final quarter of play.

Dawson County didn’t go without its scoring chances on Tuesday night. The Tigers’ shots simply weren’t falling.

Several times the Tigers had field goal opportunities in the paint but failed to convert them, which allowed Buford to use its height down low to its advantage.

With the majority of the Tigers’ offensive setup being based outside the perimeter, Buford was able to crash the boards and outrebound the Tigers 37-19 on the night.

“We looked at film from (Monday night); we were miserable,” Whitehart said. “We looked like a team that hadn’t played in a month. This morning we were back in film, broke everything down and talked about how poorly we rebounded. And that was one of our emphasis tonight.”

BUFORD GIRLS 53, EAST HALL 21: Region 7-AAA Player of the Year Camille Anderson scored 15 points, while Bree Horrocks added 17 and the Lady Wolves claimed their second straight region championship on Tuesday night.

“I just think it is wonderful anytime you can win a championship,” Buford coach Gene Durden said. “I feel really great for these young ladies. They’ve worked so hard.”

Buford (26-2) will now serve as the top seed from Region 7-AAA in the Class AAA state playoffs when they begin Friday night. The Lady Wolves will host either Ringgold or North Murray at 6 p.m. on Friday.

After a defensive first quarter, Buford dominated the remainder of the contest. Led by a potent defensive effort, the Lady Wolves held the seventh-seeded Lady Vikings to just 14 points across the final three quarters of play.

It was the full-court pressure on nearly every possession that Durden believes eventually wore down the younger Lady Vikings, who played their third game in four nights.

“I think our numbers kind of wore them out,” Durden said, “Especially in a tournament situation where they’re playing back-to-back games and us continuing to bring defensive pressure.”

Buford held a 9-7 advantage after the opening quarter, but quickly started to separate itself from East Hall by finding its offensive groove.

After East Hall grabbed a 10-9 lead on a Jatasia Bailey field goal early in the second quarter, Buford closed out the first half on a 14-2 run, which featured five different players contributing with points.

“I just think we settled down and started playing to our strengths,” Durden said. “We knew where the ball needed to go and we got it there.”

East Hall was shut out across the final five minutes of the first half, while Buford scored 10 of its points in the run during that span.

Buford held East Hall to just a 3-pointer in the third quarter, extending its lead to 42-15.

In the fourth quarter, the Lady Wolves’ lead got as large as 50-17, before Durden took his starters out to give them rest for the state tournament.

East Hall will serve as the region’s second seed in the state playoffs and will host a first-round playoff game Friday in Gainesville.

EAST HALL BOYS 67, WHITE COUNTY 65: Kyvon Davenport hit the backend of a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining to lift the Vikings to a come-from-behind win over the Warriors in the boys’ consolation game of the Region 7-AAA tournament in Buford.

Davenport’s free throw gave the Vikings a one-point lead before White County threw away the ball on its following possession.

Davenport then hit another free throw to give the Vikings a 67-65 lead with 1.3 seconds remaining.

Davenport finished with 11 points, while Jacquen Hopkins also finished with 11 for the Vikings.

Spencer Adams scored a game-high 15 points to pace White County, while Jordan Edgerton finished with 11 points and Dalton Whitfield with 10.

The Vikings rallied from a sluggish first quarter that saw the Warriors grab a 21-7 advantage behind a full-court defensive pressure and an upbeat offensive tempo.

East Hall rallied, though, to close within four, 39-35, at the half before taking its first lead of the game midway through the third quarter.

From there, the teams swapped the lead five times and managed a pair of ties, the second of which was broken with Davenport’s free throw in the closing seconds.

East Hall will serve as the No. 3 seed from Region 7 in the upcoming Class AAA state playoffs, while White County will serve as the fourth seed. Both teams will play first-round games on the road either Friday night or Saturday against opponents still to be determined.

DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 65, NORTH HALL 50: Ashley Parker scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Lady Tigers past the Lady Trojans on Tuesday afternoon in the girls’ consolation game of the Region 7-AAA tournament in Buford.

Sheyenne Seabolt finished with 17 points for the Lady Tigers, who will serve as the No. 3 seed from the region in the Class AAA state playoffs, which begins Friday.

Sisters Sadie and Sydney Cleveland paced North Hall in the loss. Sadie scored a team-high 18 points, while Sydney contributed with nine.

North Hall will act as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs against an opponent still to be determined.


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