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Buford girls put it all together to beat GAC

DECATUR -- As good as Buford's girls have been most of the season, it's safe to say they haven't really shown their best.

That changed in their Region 6-AA tournament semifinal game against GAC.

Kristina Nelson and Andraya Carter posted double-doubles, while Kaela Davis finished just one rebound short of one as the No. 3 state-ranked Wolves jumped out to an early lead and managed to keep the eighth-ranked Spartans at arm's length in taking a 51-39 victory Friday at Decatur High School.

Carter, a Tennessee-bound senior who only began playing a month ago after an offseason knee injury, got Buford (20-7) kick-started by scoring all 11 of her points in the first half, and added 12 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Kristina Nelson posted 14 of her team-high 15 points in the second half and also added 12 rebounds.

Add in 10 points and nine rebounds for Davis, a 49-27 advantage on the boards and all five Buford starters dishing out at least two assists and the Wolves rolled into today's 5 p.m. championship game against Lovett on a complete team effort.

"I thought we played really good halfcourt defense, especially in the first half," Buford coach Gene Durden said. "With as many injuries as we've had, it's been really tough to get everyone on the same page. But I thought we did a lot of good things well as a team (Friday night)."

Carter was the catalyst early hitting an early 3-pointer and dishing off to Kallie Case for another 3-pointer to help Buford build as much as a 13-2 lead before taking an 18-8 lead after the first quarter.

From there, GAC (18-8), which takes on host Decatur in the third-place game this afternoon at 2 -- never got any closer than nine points.

Still, despite the deficit and foul trouble to star forward Brianna Cummings, the Spartans never seemed completely out of the game, even after trailing by as many as 15 points and still being behind 28-17 at halftime.

"GAC could've folded two or three times," Durden said. "But they kept coming at us the whole time."

Indeed, the Spartans kept coming, pulling as close as 34-25 after a 3-pointer by Sydni Means, who led all scorers with 18 points on the night and added six rebounds, with 2:45 left in the third quarter, prompting a Buford timeout.

"We got down early, but didn't give up," GAC coach Cal Boyd said.

"We told our girls at halftime, 'Don't get frustrated.' ... When Sydni hit that three, I said, 'OK. We're right back in this."

But the Wolves regained momentum by going back to Nelson, who scored the final six points of the period to send Buford into the fourth quarter with a 40-25 lead.

And after Cummings, who fouled out with 11 points and six rebounds with 4:54 left, pulled GAC to within 40-30 with 7:33 to play, Davis led the final Buford charge, dishing off to Nelson for an assist and adding a 3-pointer and a 2-point jumper to ignite a 9-3 lead that pushed the lead to 49-33 with 4:27 remaining.