DAHLONEGA — It would be hard to tell that Buford’s girls basketball team was coming off a 10-day rest Friday against North Hall.
With only two games under their belts this season, the defending Class AA state champion and top-ranked Lady Wolves (3-0) looked just as crisp as if they’d come off a solid outing just a couple days earlier.
Buford forced the Lady Trojans into 15 first-quarter turnovers and went on to win 70-47 in the opening game of the Achasta Christmas Tournament at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.
"I was really nervous, kind of anxious to see how we’d be able to perform after so many days off," Buford coach Gene Durden said. "North Hall has played really well early in the season and playing with some confidence, but I felt like our press really gave them trouble tonight."
Andraya Carter hit a 3-point basket for Buford from the top of the key with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter to boost the Lady Wolves lead to 15-5.
Carter, a sophomore, finished the game with five 3-pointers and a game-high 31 points.
"What more can I say about Andraya?" Durden said. "The thing about Andraya is that she’s only going to get better."
After forcing North Hall (7-1) into an early turnover, Lady Wolves senior Alysha Rudnik rebounded her own missed shot for a layup. Carter stole a pass on the next possession and drove untouched for a layup.
The Lady Wolves kept the defensive pressure high in the third quarter. Two quick North Hall turnovers aided Buford’s 12-2 run in the first 2:45 of the second half.
During the Buford run, Rudnik drove to the basket for an easy layup and Carter followed with another basket off of a turnover. Rudnik, a senior, finished with 18 points and Sheresse Williams added 13 for the Lady Wolves.
In the second quarter, Mary Kate Rushton hit three straight 3-pointers in the first 1:52 of the period to narrow the Buford lead to 21-16. However, the Lady Wolves were able to respond immediately with their own sharp shooting behind the arc.
Carter and Taylor Tate hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Lady Wolves midway through the second quarter.
Then in the final 1:50 of the first half, Lacey Pass hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Lady Wolves to take a 35-22 lead into halftime.
Mary Kate Rushton finished with a team-high 23 points for North Hall, but 37 total team turnovers were the deciding factor in the Lady Trojans’ first loss of the season. McKenna Rushton added seven points for North Hall.
"We’re still young and just have to learn to play under pressure," North Hall coach Bryan Richerson said. "Buford is the No. 1 team in the state and it is the kind of test our team needed."
North Hall faces Fannin County at 5 p.m. today in Dahlonega. Buford faces East Hall at 2 p.m. today.
NORTH HALL BOYS 75, BUFORD 54
Lance White’s basket on the final play of the first half for the Trojans was a good indication of things to come.
White stole an inbounds pass from the Wolves (2-1) and drove to the basket untouched for a layup to take a 40-30 lead into halftime.
That play helped ignite a 21-6 run by the Trojans that lasted the majority of the third quarter. White had an assist on the first basket and then a layup on the second score of the third quarter for North Hall (6-2).
After a long-range jump shot by Chris Barnes, Amin Aziz followed with a 3-pointer for the Trojans to extend their lead to 51-33. Six different players scored for North Hall in the third quarter alone.
On the final play of the third period, White had another basket at the buzzer, hitting a 3-pointer from beyond halfcourt.
Barnes (15 points), Hill (13), Kanler Coker (12) and Hamilton Harper (11) all scored in double figures for North Hall.
T.J. Shipes finished with 16 for Buford and Jake Burnette added 12.
North Hall faces Wesleyan at 6:30 p.m. today in Dahlonega. Buford faces East Hall at 3:30 p.m. today in Dahlonega.