BUFORD — Early in the third quarter Friday, Buford senior Blanche Alverson stopped playing nice. The Auburn signee decided to take control for the top-ranked Lady Wolves. She scored 11 of her season-high 29 points in the third quarter and added seven rebounds to pace Buford in a 77-41 win against Callaway in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
Still, Buford coach Gene Durden hopes to see better than the 40-percent his team shot from the field if the Lady Wolves (28-1) hope to reach the ultimate goal of a state title.
"We didn’t play as intense as we needed to for four quarters tonight," Durden said. "But I’d rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss."
Alverson’s domination inside helped make amends for a sluggish first half by Buford, where baskets were harder to come by. The Lady Wolves still managed to carry a 40-18 lead into halftime, thanks to dominant defensive play. The Cavaliers (16-13) found it near impossible to get an uncontested shot and were dominated in rebounding.
"They’re certainly 28-1 now for a reason," Callaway coach Albert Gilliam said.
With the win, Buford advances to face Coosa in the second round on Tuesday in Buford. The Lady Wolves have a 28-game winning streak going since its only loss to Class AAAA’s Marist in double overtime on Dec. 6.
Alverson wasted little time kick-starting the Region 6-AA champions’ dominant third quarter. The 6-foot-3 forward scored three consecutive baskets underneath the goal in a 41-second span during the first two minutes of the third period, fueling Buford’s 15-3 run that pushed its lead to 55-23.
"We knew after halftime we would have to pick up our intensity," Alverson said. "In the second half, we really turned it around and played more focused."
Buford freshman Andraya Carter (13 points, four steals) was another key to its stellar third quarter. With one defensive play late in the third, she showed why she’s already a prospect for the Division-I level. Fighting for a rebound at midcourt, the 5-8 guard picked up the ball from her knees, saw a seam between two defenders, and without hesitation threw a two-handed pass to a wide-open Alverson for a layup. Carter scored on Buford’s next possession with a jump shot midway through the third period.
"Andraya is a special kid," Durden said. "She’s going to be a lot of fun to watch during her career."
Michelle Godwin had a pair of 3-pointers for the Lady Wolves and finished the game with nine points. Buford hit eight 3-pointers on the night. Tersheor Tigner (10) and Erin Anderson (nine points) were Callaway’s leading scorers. The Lady Cavaliers’ season is now complete.
At halftime, Buford retired the jersey of 2000 graduate Christi Thomas, who was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2001 and a three-time All-SEC selection at the University of Georgia. She currently plays for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.