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Buford girls win battle with Wesleyan

Photo: Josh Martindale. Wesleyan's Kennington Groff shoots over Ayana Ward and  McKenzie Darrah in the first half of their loss at home on Saturday night.

Photo: Josh Martindale. Wesleyan's Kennington Groff shoots over Ayana Ward and McKenzie Darrah in the first half of their loss at home on Saturday night.

NORCROSS -- Even if the Buford and Wesleyan girls both win state championships again, it is unlikely that they'll have any games more intense or exciting than what they experienced Saturday night.

"What a game," Buford coach Gene Durden said. "They don't get any better than this."

Buford was the team celebrating, but both teams will be more battled-tested for the state tournament after their overtime thriller at a very loud and nearly full Yancey Gymnasium.

Andrya Carter hit two foul shots with 3.9 seconds left in the overtime period and visiting Buford overcame a late foul on a 3-point shot to beat Wesleyan 51-49 in a battle of No. 1 ranked teams.

Buford, the defending Class AA champions, broke a 22-game losing streak to Wesleyan last season and now has two consecutive wins over the defending Class A champions.

"This shows where our program is," Durden said. "Wesleyan has a great team and has a great tradition. When you beat them, you've done something."

But the victory wasn't secured until the final half second, when Wesleyan missed the final of three free throws intentionally and the rebound was batted away.

Carter, Buford's super sophomore, had 19 points and 10 rebounds as her team improved to 18-1. Wesleyan is 17-4, with the only other in-state loss by three points against McEachern, the

No. 7 team in Class AAAAA.

Wesleyan scored just four points in an ice-cold second quarter, but battled back and led by four points midway in the fourth quarter. Wesleyan didn't score another point in regulation time, though.

Buford tied the game on a foul shot by Alysha Rudnik with 15.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter and then took charge in overtime.

Carter, McKenzie Darrah and Rudnik had baskets in a 6-2 Buford run before Logan Morris hit a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to tie the game up again. But Carter made one of two foul shots with 38.2 seconds remaining to put Buford back on top for good.

Wesleyan was hurt at the foul line, making just 10 of 26 shots.

Sophomore forward Holli Wilkins was the only double-figure scorer for Wesleyan with 10 points. Morris had eight points and eight rebounds.

Lacey Pass had nine points for Buford, hitting a trio of 3-pointers. Shereese Williams had 10 rebounds.

Wesleyan led 13-10 after the first basket of the second quarter, but then hit just one of its next 15 shots and fell behind 24-15 at halftime. Carter had eight of Buford's points during a 14-2 run.

Wesleyan had 13 turnovers in the first half and made just 6 of 28 shots. Buford had 14 first-half turnovers, but was 7 of 10 at the foul line compared to 2 of 4 for Wesleyan and made 3 of 8 from behind the 3-point arc.

Wesleyan boys 57,

Buford 54

Shane Smith, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, scored 18 points and made a key block with 28 seconds remaining as Wesleyan, ranked No. 6 in Class A, edged Buford 57-54 to improve to 16-4.

Andrew Frerking had two foul shots with 1:23 left to put Wesleyan ahead and hit two more with 11.8 seconds remaining after Smith had made his big defensive play. Frerking, a 6-foot-3 junior had 17 points -- 12 of them in the second half.

T.J. Shipes, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, scored 10 in the second half and finished with 14 for Buford, the same as 5-foot-8 junior teammate Jamal English.

Buford (8-10) scored the game's first six points and led 12-4. But Wesleyan went on a 9-0 run in the second quarter and was up 26-25 at halftime. English hit a trio of first-half 3-pointers and added a fourth 3-pointer to put Buford up 41-40 going into the fourth quarter.

Wesleyan won despite being without senior point guard Wes Caver, who missed the game because of a stomach virus.