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Buford boys battle to big region win

BUFORD -- When Buford's boys played at East Hall back on Dec. 11, the Wolves came away with an easy 102-60 win.

Points were a lot more difficult to come by for the Wolves in the rematch on Wednesday night, but Buford (6-5, 3-0) found just enough for a 59-57 win in a Region 7-AAA battle.

What made the win more satisfying for head coach Allen Whitehart was he was missing two key starters in A.J. Davis and Kyle Doyle.

That's where Isaiah Williams and Brad Mapes came in.

Williams led all players with 27 points, while Mapes scrapped his way to a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, including going 4 of 4 from the free throw line in the final 53 seconds.

"Two kids were disciplined by their families, not by me, and we were without two of our studs," Whitehart said. "I told the kids before the game that we would have to adapt and overcome. I'm proud of the way our kids fought and fought and got us the win.

"Isaiah is getting better and better as the season goes along. Early in the season, he didn't know where he was going to fit in or what he was going to do. Mapes is one of our best athletes and the way he jumped in there tonight was huge. He had been out during the Christmas break with the flu and the fact he was able to come in and do that, really helped us win."

The game featured nine lead changes. That biggest margin was an East Hall advantage late in the second period at 33-26, but Buford closed out the first half with a 5-1 run to trail by just one at the half.

The Vikings were still clinging to that one-point lead, 47-46, at the end of the third. However, Buford opened the fourth with the first six points to go up 52-47, a lead the Wolves never relinquished.

East Hall had a chance to climb back on top from the free throw line but was just 3 of 9 in the fourth.

Despite those struggles, the Vikings pulled within 54-53 with 1:07 left when Hayden Chapman hit one of two. Buford answered with two free throws from Mapes with 53 seconds to go, only to see East Hall bounce back with a jumper from Daniel McCravy (13 points, eight boards) with 36 seconds left.

Mapes again answered from the line with 30 seconds left to go back up by three, and East Hall responded, this time on a shot from Brian Edwards.

With 14.6 left to go, Buford had another player to the free-throw line in Matt McMorris, who hit one of two for a 59-57 lead.

Edwards, who led East Hall with 20 points and 10 rebounds, missed a game-tying jumper in the lane. The Vikings had one more shot to tie when McCravy had a chance at a tip-in, only to see it sail too far to the left.

"This was a big region win for us," Whitehart said. "This is a really good region and anytime you get a win in this region, regardless of who it is or who you have out, it's a big win."

Buford girls 54, East Hall 29

Buford jumped to a 23-6 lead in the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way to top East Hall 54-29.

Kaela Davis scored all of her 16 points in the first half to lead Buford, while Mackenzie Darrah scored 10.

Buford, which had 10 players score, also received eight points and six rebounds from Bree Horrocks.