BUFORD -- Allen Whitehart called Tuesday a growing experience. But he wasn't happy about it.
Buford lost its basketball opener to Class AAAAA and state-ranked Milton 71-55, watching a one time 10-point lead devolve into a disappointing loss.
"We had a lack of focus down the stretch," the Buford head coach said. "We played hard for three quarters and in the fourth we didn't have the same focus that we did for the first three."
Buford trailed by just six, 50-44, entering the final quarter, but Milton, led by four-year starter Evan Nolte, outscored the Wolves 21-11 over the final eight minutes. Buford is still playing without GAC transfer A.J. Davis, who hasn't played since switching schools.
The Wolves did get team-high 17 from Isaiah Williams and T.J. Shipes added 12, but constant of contested shots by the state's top-ranked Eagles suffocated Buford beginning in the second quarter.
Buford built a 10-point lead at 31-21 by the early part of the second quarter. Williams and Peyton Wehunt each had three 3-pointers and they were controlling the glass against a much taller Milton lineup.
But the Eagles increased their defensive pressure, ripping off a 14-2 run to end the half, forcing Buford out of its offense and creating turnovers.
"We went away from what had been successful early, we were running tight sets and we got out of that," Whitehart said. "We went away from the game plan."
And they never got back to it.
At only one point in the second half did Buford score consecutive points against Milton as the deficit began to grow. Shots started to sail, even around the rim.
"I think the kids started looking around to see if someone was going to come (block the shot)," Whitehart said. "They are very long and athletic. They can create havoc and turnovers. It's part of their game plan."
In the third quarter alone, the Wolves turned the ball over six times. Late in the game, Buford tried to rally, but missed long-range shots and fouls led to a more lopsided final than the game appeared.
And through the loss, Whitehart was encouraged.
"We competed with one of the better teams in the country, not just the state," Whitehart said of Milton. "It's a growing experience for us.
"You have got to find out what your weaknesses are."
Buford girls 64, Milton 30
Missing Andraya Carter didn't impact the result in the three-time defending Class AA Wolves in their opening game.
Kaela Davis scored 27 points, 25 in the first half, as Buford routed Class AAAAA Milton 64-30. The Wolves built a 32-point lead by halftime and cruised through the final time-shortened quarters.
Kristina Nelson followed Davis with 16 points, 14 of which came in the first half with the starters watching most of the second. Carter, still recovering from her knee injury, watched the game from the bench.
"I thought it was a real good start," head coach Gene Durden said. "Now we have to make sure we start building from there."