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Lady Wolves in title game for 3rd straight year
Carter scores 26 to lead the Lady Wolves
Buford's Andraya Carter (4) puts up a shot over Laney's Shaneal Simpson (5) on Thursday in Macon in the Class AA state semifinals. - photo by ROBERT SNOW | For The Times

MACON - Buford junior Andraya Carter left the floor after Thursday's 69-39 state semifinal win against Laney at the Macon Centreplex like it was just any other game.

That's exactly the way her coach Gene Durden wants it.

After scoring a game-high 26 points to go with five rebounds, Carter joined her teammates for a moment at midcourt after the game, but her mind was already on Saturday's Class AA state championship game at 3 p.m. against Greater Atlanta Christian in Macon.

Carter, a junior, has the opportunity to win her third state championship with the Wolves.

"We're happy with this win, but not satisfied," Carter said. "Our goal has never been just to make it to the final four.

"That's not what we're going for."

Buford has now defeated Laney in each trip to Macon since 2009 in the semifinal round. Now, the Lady Wolves (28-3) are primed for their fourth meeting this season against the Lady Spartans, a 56 -32 winner against Northeast-Macon in the semifinals earlier on Thursday.

Buford split a pair of regular season meetings against GAC, but came away with a win in the Region 6-AA tournament against the Lady Spartans for the No. 1 seed to the playoffs.

"Every time we've played GAC, it's been a war," Durden said.

Even though Buford won by 30 against Laney, it struggled mightily out of the gate.

The Lady Wildcats (29-2) took a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Mykala Jones.

After that, it was almost all Buford.

The Lady Wolves immediately responded with a 9-2 run with five points in that span from Kaela Davis (19 points) and a 3-pointer from Mackenzie Darrah, who finished with 15.

Laney managed to stay within striking range in the second quarter by creating turnovers and converting on 7 of 10 free throws.

"We needed to take better care of the ball early on," Durden said. "We were just fouling too much for our style of play."

And in the third quarter, Carter was a weapon in all phases of the game with 15 points and a pair of dazzling layups through multiple defenders. In fact, by the time Carter stole a pass and weaved through the entire Laney defense for a basket, the game was already well under control.

"Not only did Andraya do a great job scoring, but she was a terror on the boards," Durden said. "She did an outstanding job out there creating the spark that we needed."

Chelsea Maultsby and Dekoya Mack were Laney's leading scorers with eight each.

Durden took away a good feeling that his team held the Lady Wildcats under 40 points, something they've done three times now in the postseason.

The only team to score more than 40 against Buford in the postseason was East Hall (41) in the opening round.

"Anytime your defense holds the other team to under 40 points, they've done their job," Durden said.

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