BUFORD -- Coming down the stretch of the regular season and chasing after Region 7-AAA titles, both the Buford boys and girls basketball teams used impressive defense performances to capture wins over visiting Dawson County Friday night.
In the boys' game, Buford used its size and strength on defense to hold Dawson County to single digits in the first three quarters as the Wolves took home a 52-38 win.
Buford (17-5 overall, 11-0 region) moved another step closer to the regular-season region crown with the 14-point win over Dawson County, which came in similar fashion to the 53-36 win over the Tigers back on Jan. 8.
In Friday's contest, Buford led from start to finish and built the advantage to 19 points on three occasions in the second half before closing it out with the 14-point win.
But even with the blowout win, Buford head coach Allen Whitehart still sees room for improvement.
"(Dawson County) is a very patient basketball team and we have to sit and defend to make them earn their baskets," said Whitehart. "And I thought we had some good stretches tonight when we played well. But I told the guys after the game that we had stretches when we didn't play well. We're going to have to improve some things in the next two weeks or so if we're going to accomplish our goals."
Buford, playing without Brad Mapes after he was knocked to the floor in Tuesday's win over Banks County, simply didn't allow Dawson County to find its rhythm on offense.
Buford jumped ahead 12-8 after the first quarter and led 22-14 going into halftime.
But the Wolves outscored the Tigers 17-6 in the third quarter to build a 39-20 lead heading to the fourth.
Dawson County (20-3, 9-3) did cut the margin to 44-34 with 1:26 to go, but Buford was steady down the stretch and eventually salted away its 13th straight win.
A.J. Davis paced the Buford attack with 16 points while Kyle Doyle had 13, including the Wolves' only three-pointer.
Isaiah Williams chipped in 10 points for Buford.
Jonathan Sanderson led Dawson County with nine points while Will Anglin and Tyler Dominy, who also quarterbacked the Tigers' football team, both had eight.
Dominy had 16 in the first game on January 8 meeting.
In the girls' game, Buford overcame a slow start and eventually pulled away for a 75-40 win over Dawson County.
Buford, which clinches at least a share of the Region 7-AAA title with the victory, trailed 7-0 and 10-3 to start the game.
But the Wolves rallied to tie the game at 13-13 at the end of the first quarter and then outscored Dawson County 26-12 in the second quarter to build a commanding 39-25 advantage.
Buford (17-4, 11-0) was never challenged in the final two quarters as the Wolves led 58-32 at the end of the third and coasted home to the 35-point win.
"I thought we just had to settle down early on and just get into the flow of the game," said Buford head coach Gene Durden as the Wolves won for the 10th time in 11 games. "(Dawson County) shot the ball early, but we started to defend better and then we found the openings on offense we were looking for. We thought we had a size advantage and we started to get the ball moving better inside and outside."
Dawson County (19-4, 8-4) shot the ball well early as the Tigers hit five 3-pointers in the opening half.
But Buford began to use its size and aggressive defense to take the lead and pull away for the victory.
Buford also got a big lift from sophomore Camille Anderson, who had 11 points in the second quarter that included a trio of 3-pointers.
"Camille really gave us a lift hitting those 3s and it opened some things up for us inside," said Durden.
Senior MacKenzie Darrah also had eight points in the decisive second quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers as the Wolves quickly turned a tie game at 13 into a 14-point lead at the half.
Once Buford built the big halftime cushion, the Wolves used a solid defense to keep Dawson County at bay as the Tigers managed just 15 points in the second half.
Darrah led the way for Buford with 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists while Anderson had 16 points and five rebounds for the Wolves.
Maya Dillard also had a terrific game at point guard for Buford as the senior had 10 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in the winning effort.
Carly Gilreath led Dawson County with 13 points, including two 3-pointers, and Sheyenne Seabolt added 10 points for the Tigers.