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High school basketball playoff previews
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Buford girls vs. Rabun County
When: 7 tonight
Where: Northwest Georgia Trade Center, Dalton
Records: Buford (26-3, No. 1 Region 6-AA); Rabun County (27-3, No. 1 Region 8-AA)
Coaches: Buford, Gene Durden. Rabun County, DeeDee Dillard.
Key players: Buford, G Andraya Carter (5-8, Jr.); G/F Kaela Davis (6-0, Jr.); F Sheresse Williams (5-10, Sr.). Rabun County, F Krista Dixon (5-10, Jr.); G Savannah Reeves (So.).
Outlook: For the third consecutive season, Rabun County and Buford are meeting in the Class AA state quarterfinals.

Buford won easily in 2009 (70-38) and 2010 (48-28), but Durden said his team can’t take the Lady Wildcats lightly.

“I know this is a coaching cliché, but every year, every team is different,” Durden said. “This year’s (Rabun County) team plays with a lot of energy and they’ve got a lot of kids who can shoot it. That makes anybody dangerous.”

The Lady Wildcats defeated Model in the second round 73-65, scoring 45 points in the second half, after Model entered the game yielding only 43 points per game. Rabun County is 24-0 this season when scoring 54 points or more.

Reaching that number won’t be easy against the Lady Wolves, whose full-court defense has led the way to back-to-back state titles.

The Lady Wolves have won seven straight since a loss to Greater Atlanta Christian on Feb. 8. Since then, they’re winning by an average score of 63-29, including a 51-30 win over GAC in the 6-AA championship game.

University of Tennessee recruits Carter and Davis are 100 percent healthy, Durden said, after each missed some time during the regular season.

Buford boys vs. South Atlanta
When: 5:30 p.m. today
Where: Northwest Georgia Trade Center, Dalton
Records: Buford (22-8, No. 3 Region 6-AA); South Atlanta (28-1, No. 2 Region 6-AA).
Coaches: Buford, Allen Whiteheart. South Atlanta, Michael Reddick.
Key players: Buford, C T.J. Shipes (6-7, Jr.); PG Alex Flagler (5-10, Sr.); G Kyle Kellam (6-0, Jr.). South Atlanta, C Nick Jacobs (6-8, Sr.); G/F Dominique McKoy (6-7, Sr.).
Outlook: Buford has seen enough of 6-AA foe South Atlanta to know what it will take to beat them — the Wolves just haven’t been able to do it in the schools’ first two meetings.

South Atlanta won both meetings this season, 78-59 on Dec. 7 and 61-48 in region semifinals.

“We’re going to have to play well,” Whiteheart said. “No doubt about that. We’ve got to play smart, be efficient on offense and play tough on defense.”

Whiteheart said the Wolves, who are back in the quarterfinals after missing the playoffs three straight years, are playing their best basketball of the season in recent weeks. They’ve won back-to-back playoff games on the road, including a 64-62 win over Kendrick on Wednesday.

Avoiding an early deficit will be a focal point for Buford against the Hornets. In the region semifinals, South Atlanta claimed an 11-2 lead out of the gate and kept the Wolves playing catch-up the rest of the way.

The Hornets are led by Jacobs, a University of Alabama signee, and McKoy, who has scholarship offers to Oregon State and Murray State, among others.

The Wolves can’t quite match that size, but have their own threat in the paint with Shipes, who scored 20 against Kendrick.

East Hall boys vs. Greater Atlanta Christian
When: 8:30 tonight
Where: Northwest Georgia Trade Center, Dalton
Records: East Hall (25-5, No. 1 Region 8-AA); GAC (25-5, No. 1 Region 6-AA)
Coaches: East Hall, Joe Dix. GAC, Eddie Martin.
Key players: East Hall, G Kymon Woods (6-5, Sr.); G Dre Perry (5-9, Sr.); C Sterling Bailey (6-6, Sr.). GAC, G Malcolm Brogdon (6-4, Sr.); F A.J. Davis (6-6, So.); G Paul Dawson (5-10, Sr.).

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