Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan The Buford basketball team gave tribute to teammate Adam Smith, who died during a training session earlier this year. The Wolves wore Smith No. 10 warmup jerseys in his honor prior to their game against Banks County on Friday.
Buford basketball "Silent Night" for Adam Smith
The Buford basketball team pays tribute to teammate Adam Smith, who died during a training session earlier this year. The Wolves kept Smith's No. 10 jersey draped over a chair on the bench and played in a silent gym until Buford scored 10 points against Banks County on Friday.
BUFORD -- Buford head basketball coach Allen Whitehart said it best, "This one's for Adam."
In September, the Buford community suffered the loss of junior Adam Smith, who collapsed during basketball workouts.
Friday night, the team, fans and community honored him with their own version of Taylor University's "Silent Night" in a Region 7-AAA game against Banks County.
A tradition where everything is quiet until the home team scores the 10th point, the inside of Buford's gymnasium was virtually quiet as the game tipped off. The noise of players shoes squeaking up and down the floor, players communicating and coaches giving directions were the only sounds as the anticipation built.
"I can't begin to gather my emotions," Whitehart told his team before the game. "Adam did everything the right way. He played hard and gave everything to this program. The key is to have fun in his honor."
And, fun they did have.
Midway through the first quarter, Isaiah Williams hit a 3-pointer to give Buford seven points. Another two-point basket brought it to nine points.
Then, A.J. Davis took a pass and went up for the slam, only to get fouled with 3:53 to go in the first quarter. Davis stepped to the line and calmly sank the first free throw for the 10th point. From there, the game stopped and the crowd erupted as Smith was given a standing ovation from everyone in the building.
"I was thinking about him at that moment," Davis said. "I was remembering him, his smile and how happy he was. Adam lived life the perfect way and was always there to make you laugh, even if you didn't want to."
It was a moment Whitehart described as something special and something he'll remember for a long time.
"Give it up for him," the coach told his team. "He'd do it for you with a smile on his face."
Once the 10th point was scored, things began to click for the Wolves (3-4, 2-0 Region 7-AAA).
"We couldn't get it going early," Whitehart said. "There was a nervous energy. These guys wanted to do it for Adam."
From there, the Wolves outscored Banks County 32-15 the rest of the first half en route to a 77-38 win.
In total, Buford had 11 players score, which Whitehart said was a fitting tribute to Smith.
Davis finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Isaiah Williams added 13.
"That was such a team effort," he said. "That's exactly how Adam would have played the game."
When asked how Smith would have responded to a game like this, Whitehart said he would be acting like his normal, goofy self.
"He'd be bouncing around the locker room, full of joy," Whitehart said. "He was a great person to be around and someone that is missed."
At the end of the day (figuratively speaking), the score didn't matter, the stats didn't matter, nothing mattered, except one thing.
"This is for a special young man on a special night," Whitehart said. "We left it on the floor for him."
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Buford girls 57, Banks Co. 18
The girls' game was no contest as the Wolves held the Leopards to four points in the first half, en route to the 39-point victory.
Kaela Davis led the team with 22 points, while Mackenzie Darrah contributed nine.