Buford girls return to state finals

MILLEDGEVILLE — Buford’s girls’ basketball team has a strong recent history of playing for state championships and the 2013-14 team will get that chance after the Wolves dominated in a 63-46 victory over Pike County in the Class AAA semifinals Saturday at Georgia College & State University’s Centennial Center.

Buford (30-2), which has won its four tournament games by 13 or more points, will meet the winner of St. Pius-Beach next Saturday at 3 p.m. in Macon with a chance to claim the Wolves’ fourth title in the last six years.

But it would be Buford’s first in Class AAA after winning AA championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

A rematch with St. Pius would also be sweet after Buford lost 56-43 to the Golden Lions in last year’s Class AAA quarterfinals.

“This has been an incredible journey that these kids have been on,” Buford head coach Gene Durden said. “To lose so much from last year’s team and for these kids to wait their time. A lot of them have never been on the floor in this situation. We’re so blessed and to be where we’re at, we’re just so excited.”

On Saturday, Buford never trailed against Pike County and eventually took home the 17-point win with balanced scoring and solid team play for 32 minutes.

Camille Anderson paced the Buford offense with 20 points and five rebounds while Bree Horrocks had 14 points and 11 rebounds to go along with a pair of blocked shots.

But Buford had nine players find the scoring column as the Wolves consistently built on the lead throughout the contest.

“Our kids have been playing so well as a unit,” Durden said. “So you never know which night which kid will step up. But the great thing is they all play great defense, play together and play unselfish. When you’ve got that, you’ve got a chance in any game.”

Buford, which hasn’t lost since a 61-39 defeat at the hands of Wesleyan on Jan. 25, jumped out to an 11-4 lead before Pike County pulled even at 12-12.

However, Buford quickly regained the lead and eventually pushed out to a 17-13 lead after the first quarter.

From there, Buford went to work in the second quarter and outscored Pike County 19-6 to take a 36-19 halftime advantage.

Anderson did most of her damage in the opening half by draining a trio of three-pointers and finished the first two quarters with 13 points.

In the second half, Pike County (24-8) played relatively even with Buford as both teams posted a 12-point third quarters and 15-point fourth quarters.

But Pike County could only draw as close as 13 points on two occasions in the third quarter while Buford pulled out to a pair of 21-point leads in the final frame.

And that was just fine with Buford as the Wolves simply transferred the 17-point halftime lead into a 17-point victory and another trip to a state championship game.

Taylor Ozment and Chandler Hall each had six points for Buford while Corey Staples and Ceely Coker added five points each.

Kristen Beckham led the way for Pike County with 14 points and five rebounds while Shaineequah Fluellyn had 12 points for the Pirates.