BUFORD — Camille Anderson wore a smile from ear to ear after the best game of her career Tuesday night, a battle between two elite high school players.
The Lady Wolves guard scored a season-high 33 points with the help of six 3-pointers to overcome a 40-point effort by the nation’s top-ranked player, Asia Durr, and guided a thrilling 59-55 victory against St. Pius X in the Class AAAA state quarterfinals at Buford High School.
With the win, Buford avenged season-ending losses to St. Pius in the 2014 state championship game and 2013 state quarterfinals. Next, the Lady Wolves will face Fayette County in the state semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton.
Anderson played in both of those previous heart-breaking losses for No. 1 Buford. She didn’t let it happen in her final crack at the third-ranked and two-time defending state champion Golden Lions (27-4).
“Beating St. Pius is a great accomplishment for our team; (I’m) just so proud,” said Anderson, who had 17 points at halftime. “The first two games (against) St. Pius, we shouldn’t have lost, but we found a way to come out and get the win this time.”
Buford’s winning streak now stands at 20 games.
The Lady Wolves kept the home crowd in it all night Tuesday, leading by six just before halftime, nine at the end of the third quarter and endured a frantic comeback attempt by Durr late in the fourth quarter, before St. Pius’ leading scorer fouled out in the final 30 seconds of the game.
Along with Anderson’s superb touch on the ball all night, senior Katy Bisges knocked down a huge 3-pointer to give the Lady Wolves (28-3) a two-possession lead 54-48 late in the fourth quarter, at a time when Durr seemed unstoppable with the ball in her hands.
“That shot by Katy Bisges was huge for us,” Buford coach Gene Durden said. “That’s what gave us a cushion there toward the end.”
Anderson gave Buford its biggest lead of the game, 51-40, with a 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the final quarter.
Even that hole didn’t deter Durr, who finished the game 12 of 15 from the free throw line. She also hit a jumper in the lane to break a long stretch that her team went without a basket, cutting the Lady Wolves’ lead to 51-48.
Durr also stole the ball on a fourth-quarter Buford possession and was fouled on the other end while shooting a 3-pointer. She only made one shot during that trip to the line, but added three more baskets late in the fourth quarter.
Durden knew the game would remain in question as long as Durr was on the court. Buford used triple-team coverage to try to slow her down throughout the night, and even that came with minimal success.
“Asia Durr is everything as advertised,” said Durden. “In my 27 years as a coach, the only player who is close to her in ability was Maya Moore.
“I’m just glad we were able to come out on top.”
In addition to a big 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, Anderson hit 1 of 2 free throws in three separate trips to the foul line in the final period.
Her final free throw gave Buford a 58-55 lead. Shortly after that, Durr fouled out on contact with Chandler Hall, who went to the free throw line and made 1 of 2 to close it out with just a few seconds left on the game clock.
Anderson started her big night with a basket on the game’s first shot and knocked down a long 3-pointer late in the first quarter to knot the score at 11-11. Lane Crawford gave the Lady Wolves their second lead of the first quarter with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
The lead went back and forth for most of the second quarter with Durr knocking down jump shots continually after Buford scored.
In the final minute of the opening half, Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner that glanced off the backboard, then made a stop-and-go basket in the lane after a St. Pius X turnover to make Buford’s lead 29-23.
Durr’s most athletic play of the game came when St. Pius X was down by seven points early in the second half. Closely guarded behind the 3-point line, Durr drew the foul and knocked down the shot as she went to the ground. She finished the four-point play at the foul line.
Anderson had an answer for Buford almost immediately, going over Durr in the lane for a basket. Anderson drained another 3-pointer before the end of the third quarter, then hit a pair of free throws just before the end of the period.
“Camille has shouldered a big load for us all season,” said Durden. “Not only did she shoot the ball well tonight, but (she) was great on defense.”