Buford vs. Laney
When: 4 today
Records: Buford (27-4); Laney (26-3)
Seeds: Buford No. 2 Region 6-AA; Laney No. 2 Region 3-AA
Coaches: Buford, Gene Durden. Laney, Otis Smart.
Key players: Buford, SG Lacey Pass (5-6, Sr.); PG Andraya Carter (5-8, So.); PF Alysha Rudnik (5-9, Sr.); C Shereese Williams (5-10. Jr.). Laney, G Mykala Jones (5-5, Jr.); SF Ciara Morris (6-0, Jr.); PG Dekoya Mack (5-1, So.); PG Alexis Lester (5-5, Sr.).
Outlook: Durden has taken the Lady Wolves to the state tournament in four of the last five years, and this is the team’s second straight trip to Macon. Buford finished second in Region 6-AA to Greater Atlanta Christian, but players such as Carter, who’s averaging 21 points per game over the last five contests, Rudnik and Pass give the Lady Wolves the skill and athleticism to overcome a high-scoring Laney team that averages 75.1 points per game. Laney lost to Buford 68-42 in the semifinals last year, and Smart thought that by finishing second in the region would postpone a rematch until the finals. He was wrong.
While the teams battling in the semifinals might be the same, both squads are different. Buford graduated eight seniors from last year’s state title team, and Laney lost its two best scorers, including Taylor Ayers, who is now playing at Virginia Tech. With Ayers (and Brianna Eubanks) gone, the Lady Wildcats rely heavily on Lester, whose averaging 18.3 ppg in her last three. Lester and Jones (18 ppg. in last three) usually lead the scoring charge for Laney. Laney’s consistent offense, however, will have a difficult time powering through the dominating defense and talented scorers of Buford.