BUFORD — Rakim Lubin and D’Marcus Simonds are building serious chemistry, and Region 7-AAA teams are paying for it.
Feeding off each other, Lubin scored 29 points and Simonds added another 23 as the Buford boys used a dominant third quarter to defeat Dawson County 71-55 on Wednesday.
The two Wolves stars combined for 28 points in the third — Lubin with 15, Simonds 13 — to turn a two-point game at halftime into a rout that put Buford (9-5, 5-0) in solid control of first in the region standings.
"We decided to stay focused in our man defense and not get lost," Lubin said. "In the first half, we were getting lost with men and they were knocking down 3s."
AAU teammates and close friends off the court, Lubin and Simonds have spent plenty of time getting to know each other’s strengths, and it showed in the third quarter. They scored all but one point in a 15-0 run to open the period, then scored all but two in another 15-6 run to close it out.
In just an eight-minute span, what was once a tightly-matched contest turned into a 59-35 game through three quarters, with Buford holding the heavy advantage.
“The shift in that game was the third quarter, when D’Marcus got aggressive,” Wolves coach Allen Whitehart said. “Rakim was dunking the ball and that had everybody looking, but it was definitely D’Marcus getting aggressive.”
Lubin tacked on nine rebounds with his high-scoring performance. Simonds added five boards.
After every slam dunk or alley-oop between the teammates, they immediately ran to each other on the court for a celebratory high five.
“I felt like we had a bond that could lead us to wins,” Simonds said. “We have a bunch of role players, and we feel like we need to lead in order to win this year. We’ve really bonded, off the court as well.”
Lubin took the reins on Buford’s offense early in the game, scoring 12 first-half points and helping the Wolves erase a 15-13 deficit through one quarter of play.
The 6-foot-8, 255-pound Connecticut commit tied the game at 20 with a dunk at the 5:15 mark of the second quarter. It was the last time Buford didn’t have the lead.
The game-tying play was part of a 13-3 run that shifted momentum to the Wolves. Dawson County closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer by Levi Whitmire and three free throws as the clock winded down to get back to 28-26 at halftime.
The Tigers simply couldn’t hold on. They managed to shoot 10 3-pointers in the game, but even accurate shooting at the arc couldn’t overcome a quality night for Buford’s two standouts.
“They’re (Dawson County) battle tested as well,” Whitehart said. “They’ve beaten some basketball teams and they know how to win. They’ve been winning the last couple of years, as far as I know. It’s a big game to get out of the way.”
All of the Wolves’ scoring came from just four players, helping Matt McMorris reach double figures with 15 points. Keyton Gibson was the only other player to score, with four.
Sam Muenchen led Dawson County with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Levi Whitmire and Jackson Putnam each provided 13.
Buford visits West Hall on Friday, while Dawson County hosts North Hall.
BUFORD GIRLS 64, DAWSON COUNTY 43: Camille Anderson scored a team-high 20 points as the Lady Wolves picked up a key region win over the Lady Tigers.
Anderson scored 13 points in a dominant first half for Buford (12-1, 5-0), which saw the Lady Wolves jump out to a 39-16 lead at halftime against last year’s Class AAA runner-up.
Buford led 20-8 after one quarter, then fueled its advantage with a 19-0 run that spanned the majority of the second quarter.
“Any time you’re in a region game, you need to play well,” Lady Wolves coach Gene Durden said. “I thought we started off very fast. We did a good job of coming out and executing. Any time you can get up in the region, that’s a big difference.”
Corey Staples added 13 points for Buford, which has won 11 straight.
Dawson County (12-4, 3-2) was led by Sheyenne Seabolt’s 14 points and eight rebounds, while Ashley Parker added 12 points and six rebounds. Karlie Bearden provided eight pounds and eight boards.
The Lady Tigers did most of their damage in the fourth quarter, outscoring Buford 22-13.
Dawson County played without head coach Steve Sweat, who was absent due to the birth of his grandchild.