NORCROSS -- When the Buford boys jumped to a 9-0 lead, it looked like the Wolves might be headed back to the state tournament.
Westminster, though, had other ideas.
The Wildcats called on their superior depth and size to take charge, defeating Buford 57-52 in the Region 6-AA quarterfinals Thursday night at Greater Atlanta Christian's Long Forum.
The victory assured Westminster (13-12) of a spot in the state tournament and set up a semifinal matchup with No. 1-ranked GAC on Saturday night.
Buford and Wesminster split their regular-season games, with the Wolves winning 48-40 in overtime at Buford and the Wildcats prevailing 49-44 at home.
"We match up pretty well and we got off to a good start," Buford coach Milt Travis said of the team's third meeting.
The Wolves couldn't sustain it, though.
"We're young," said Travis, who played just one senior. "You have to be grown up at tournament time. Our inexperience showed some."
Buford, which went to the Class AA semifinals twice in Travis' first five seasons as coach and won 110 games, finished 9-16 and missed the state tournament for the third straight season.
Sophomore center T.J. Shipes helped get the Wolves off to their fast start, scoring six points, grabbing two rebounds and blocking a shot during the 9-0 run. He also had the assist on Jamal English's 3-pointer.
But Westminster battled back to within 12-11 at the end of the quarter and took a 28-21 lead at halftime thanks to an 8-0 closing run.
Buford trailed 36-28 after three quarters and was down by 12 points before closing the game on a 17-10 run after never giving up.
Shipes finished with 14 points and seven rebounds before fouling out. Kyle Kellem, a sophomore, and Jake Burnette, a junior, each scored 12 points for the Wolves, who lost eight of their last nine games.
Maalik Reynolds, a 6-foot-6 senior, scored a game-high 17 points for Westminster. The Wildcats were 20 of 30 at the foul line compared to 8 of 12 for Buford.
"It was a tough season, but there are some young players at Buford to build with," said Travis, who completed his eighth season with the Wolves after 20 years at Model. His record at Buford is 136-87.
GAC 92, Cross Keys 35
No. 1-ranked GAC cruised to a 92-35 victory over Cross Keys and may have Paul Dawson available for Saturday night's semifinal game against Westminster. The junior point guard has been sidelined for two weeks because of a leg injury.
The Spartans (25-1) fell behind Cross Keys 4-2, but led 30-7 by the end of the first quarter. It was 55-20 at halftime, with Trent Wiedeman getting 20 points despite a tender right ankle. Malcolm Brogdon had 17 first-half points and Elliott Long added 12.
GAC played reserves the entire second half and led 85-29 going into the fourth quarter. Collin Swinton had 10 points for the Spartans, while fellow freshman A.J. Davis and junior Morgan Ingram scored eight.
Westminster (13-12) lost to GAC 65-47 on Monday in the final regular-season game. The Spartans won the first meeting 57-30.