GAINESVILLE -- Buford boys head coach Allen Whitehart told his team before the Region 7-AAA tournament began that if they were going to win it, it was going to be with its defense.
And after the Wolves' performance on Friday night, it looks like his squad is headed in the right direction.
Behind a physical, smothering defensive attack, Buford held Dawson County to single digits in three of the four quarters to come away with a 56-30 win over the Tigers on Friday night at North Hall High School.
The win improved Buford to 21-6 and sets up a date tonight at 7:30 p.m. at North Hall in the tournament final against the North Hall-East Hall winner.
"I tell the kids all the time that we are bipolar (on defense)," Whitehart said. "One night we'll look really good and the next night, I'm over there scratching my head. Tonight, I felt like defensively we worked and that opened it up for us to play well."
Dawson County employed a slowed down approach with its offense at the onset of the game and the tactic nearly paid off as Buford led 11-8 after the first quarter and by just five at the half at 20-15.
Gunnar Armstrong helped keep Dawson County (21-6) in the game during that span with a couple of 3-pointers, plays that Whitehart said came about because of a couple of "let downs and gambles" on defense.
But the openings provided by those "gambles" weren't there for Dawson County in the second half as the Tigers managed just five points in the third quarter.
That opened the door for what had been a quiet Buford offense as Isaiah Williams and Kyle Doyle stirred to life as the Wolves took control with a 21-5 run.
Doyle, who led all players with 20 points and 10 rebounds, led that attack with nine in the quarter, while Williams piled on with eight more.
Williams would finish with 16 points, while A.J. Davis added nine points, five rebounds and four assists in solid all-around effort.
Buford also had a strong fourth quarter from the free-throw line by hitting 9 of 13 in the final frame.
Buford's defense also ensured that no Tiger reached double-figures in points. Dawson County's top scorers were Armstrong, Jonathan Sanderson and Tyler Dominy with six points each.
Dawson County, which has lost four of its last five, will play for third place today at 4:30 p.m. against the North Hall-East Hall loser.
Buford girls 37, White County 22
Buford ran its record to 21-4 on Friday night with a 37-22 win over White County in the semifinals of the Region 7-AAA tournament at North Hall.
Buford will play for the region crown tonight at 6 p.m. against Dawson County.
White County employed a slow, deliberate offense by spacing out its players and patiently passing the ball around.
That limited the number of touches the Buford offense had, and the tactic kept the Warriors within sight of the lead the majority of the night.
Buford led 22-9 at the half and 27-13 after the third, with White County getting as close as 29-22 with four minutes left to play, but the Wolves closed out the game with an 8-0 run.
Kristina Nelson, who led all players with 14 points, scored five of those in the final four minutes as part of the decisive run that closed out the game.
Bree Horrocks added eight points for Buford, while Mackenzie Darrah added seven points.