Led by Blanche Alverson’s five points, Buford went on a 10-0 run over the first two minutes of the game en route to a 27-point first quarter and a 68-42 rout of Laney in the Class AA state semifinals at the Macon Centreplex.
With the win, the Lady Wolves move on to the state championship game for the first time since 1999. They will face Model at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.
"I’m really pleased with the confidence and poise we came out with," Buford coach Gene Durden said. "It’s because of the tough schedule we played. We played Wesleyan and Gainesville and teams like that and so our girls weren’t intimidated."
Alverson, who had eight rebounds in the game, led 10 Buford scorers with a game-high 24 points, most coming off passes from freshman Andraya Carter who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists.
Carter was also the beneficiary of several Alverson passes including an alley-oop with three minutes left in the first quarter.
"Blanche is a big-time player who’s played all over the country with AAU and so has Andraya," Durden said. "They just do a great job finding each other."
"(Andraya) was huge," Alverson said. "She played well and handled the ball well for us, and got steals on the back of the press—she was just huge."
The Lady Wolves set the tone early with Michelle Godwin taking a charge on the first Laney possession and Alverson hitting a 3-pointer on Buford’s ensuing possession.
That was the only evidence of Buford’s focus from the start. Knowing rebounding was one of the three Durden keys to winning, reserve guard Katie Lynn came off the bench to grab six boards in the first half.
When all was said and done, Buford had outrebounded its opponent 35-16.
"We did a great job of boxing them out and we knew that was going to be huge," Durden said. "For Katie (Lynn) to come off the bench and do what she did was huge, she just did a great job."
The Lady Wolves held Laney without a field goal in the first three minutes of the game, holding them to 36 percent shooting and only 25 points.
Buford, on the other hand, shot 47 percent from the field and scored 44 first-half points.
"(Coming out strong offensively) was great," Alverson said. "That was what we wanted to do and it gave us confidence for the rest of the game."
Defensively, Buford finished the game as strong as it had started offensively, holding Laney to 17 second-half points.
That’s not to say the offense wasn’t still clicking as evidenced by a Carter pass to junior shooting guard Alysha Rudnik who converted on a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Rudnik had 12 points on 5-of-10 from the field.
"I’m so looking forward to playing for a state title," Alverson said. "This is what we’ve worked for."
Laney was led by Taylor Ayers with 16 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Brianna Eubanks added 11 points for the Lady Wildcats.