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Late start no problem for Wolves

Photo: Briam Kamer Buford's TJ Shipes (15) shoots over Spencer's M. Tate (50) during Saturday night's Class AA state playoff game at Buford.

Photo: Briam Kamer Buford's TJ Shipes (15) shoots over Spencer's M. Tate (50) during Saturday night's Class AA state playoff game at Buford.

BUFORD -- The Spencer-Buford basketball game in the first round of the Class AA state basketball tournament got off to an unusual beginning.

But the ending played out as expected as Buford rolled to a 79-60 win to advance to next week's second round against the winner of Dawson County-Calhoun.

Meanwhile, the season ends for Spencer at 9-17.

The unusual beginning had to do with getting both teams to the gym.

As the 5 p.m. game time approached, the Spencer team en route from Columbus was nowhere to be found.

But once the game began nearly a half-hour late, the visitors showed no signs of fatigue as the Greenwave pushed out an early 10-point advantage and eventually took an 18-10 lead after the first quarter.

Buford (21-7) began to find its stride in the second quarter and actually took a brief 27-26 lead before Spencer made it 28-27 at the half.

In the second half, it was all Buford as the Wolves outscored Spencer 52-32 with T.J. Shipes, Kyle Kellam and Isaiah Williams doing most of the damage with 43 combined points in the final 16 minutes. Buford opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run that included a trio of 3-pointers from Williams.

That gave Buford a 40-30 lead at the 5:11 mark of the third quarter and the Wolves never looked back.

"We were sluggish early and I knew we were going up against an athletic team that would stay after us," said Buford head coach Allen Whitehart. "I can't really say the delay bothered us, but I know we were turning the ball over and just making too many mistakes. But I am proud of the way we responded and came back."

Shipes led the way for Buford with a game-high 33 points, including a few thunderous dunks in the second half.

Shipes also went 11 of 12 from the free throw line.

As a team, Buford went 23-for-30 from the charity stripe.

Williams finished with 14 points for Buford, including his three 3-pointers, while Kellam had 13 and A.J. Davis had 12.

"I thought Kyle Kellam had a great fourth quarter for us and Isaiah Williams hit those threes for us to start the second half," Whitehart said. "T.J. (Shipes) was getting his points, but I thought those two guys really helped us."

Rahmel Moton led Spencer with 16 points while Cornelious Brown had 14 and Deondre Hubbard had 13.

"We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter," said Spencer head coach Walter Jackson. "And it wasn't just the bus ride and getting lost coming up here. We stopped hustling and doing the things we were doing early. Don't get me wrong, we lost to a good team. But it's the first time I've seen my team run out of gas like that."