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Buford girls dominate Woodward Academy, 62-45, to advance to state semifinals

POSTED: February 26, 2014 9:43 p.m.
Scott Rogers | The Times/

Buford High's Katy Bisges, right grabs hold of the ball with teammate Marissa Bruce, top, and Woodward Academy's Madison Richardson, left, Wednesday night during the first half of the Lady Wolves' state quarterfinal game at the Buford High gymnasium.

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BUFORD — Defense wins championships. A good offense doesn’t hurt either.

The Buford girls’ basketball team has both, and it showed on Wednesday night.

The Lady Wolves (29-2) used a strong defensive effort and found an offensive rhythm in the second quarter to rout the Woodward Academy Lady War Eagles, 62-45, in the Class AAA state quarterfinals in Buford.

Buford, which finished its season with a perfect 19-0 home record, will now face Pike County in the state semifinals on Saturday at Georgia College in Milledgeville.

“I can’t describe the feeling,” senior Bree Horrocks said. “We’ve gone to the state tournament in the past, we’ve played for a state championship, but it wasn’t the right way. But finally doing it the way the coaches’ want us to do it and selling out, I’m elated. It’s amazing.”

After a weak offensive performance in Tuesday’s second-round win over Decatur, the Lady Wolves once again found themselves struggling on the offensive end in the opening quarter Wednesday night.

The good thing for Buford, though, was the defensive effort was there throughout the entirety of the game. The Lady Wolves forced 34 turnovers and limited the Woodward Academy team to its lowest point total of the state playoffs.

That defensive pressure helped the Lady Wolves find their form on offense by creating fastbreak opportunities and wide-open layup chances on the other end.

“We have just survived on our defense,” Buford coach Gene Durden said. “These kids have sold out with what we do and they’ve done a tremendous job to win, even when our offense isn’t clicking.”

After grabbing an 11-4 lead after the first quarter, Buford started to find a rhythm in the second quarter.

It was the strong defensive effort, which included forcing 17 first-half turnovers, that helped the offense get going, especially Horrocks, who finished with 24 points, and junior Camille Anderson, who finished with 19.

Horrocks scored five straight points for Buford midway through the second quarter before Anderson closed out the period by scoring eight of her 11 first-half points, including six off back-to-back 3-pointers.

A major cornerstone to Buford’s defensive success came from junior Corey Staples, who missed the previous five games with a knee injury. After returning to the lineup on Wednesday, Staples was the Lady Wolves’ leader in the full-court press, at one point forcing back-to-back turnovers that led to a pair of easy fastbreak baskets.

“We’re a different team with (Staples) on the floor,” Durden said. “We think she’s done a great job at coming back from an injury and we’re glad to have her in this run right now.”

Buford led 32-16 at halftime, but quickly extended its lead to 23 in the third quarter.

Woodward Academy closed the score to 48-31 at the end of the quarter, before the Lady Wolves all but sealed up the victory with a demanding 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter.

During that 10-0 run, the Lady Wolves forced five straight Woodward Academy turnovers, leading to easy baskets on the offensive end.

“I feel like our pressure on defense is always going to cause turmoil,” Staples said. “We just put in all of our energy and that gives us most of our points.”

Horrocks was the leader of the final push in the fourth quarter, scoring on three of the five possessions, with her final basket pushing Buford’s lead to 27, the largest of the game.

“I think Bree Horrocks played her best offensive game tonight,” Durden said. “I thought she did a real good job at finding the open spots, hitting the mid-range jumper and also getting post up and putting the ball in the basket.”

Buford’s state semifinal game is scheduled for a 4:45 p.m. start on Saturday. The Buford boys’ basketball team will host Cartersville in the state quarterfinals tonight at 7 p.m. in Buford.


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