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Buford boys ride defense to 7-AAA championship

GAINESVILLE -- Buford head coach Allen Whitehart has been preaching defense to his team and it sure paid off in the Wolves' 50-36 win over North Hall to claim the Region 7-AAA boys' basketball title.

Buford, which shared the regular-season region title with North Hall, lost the coin flip to host the semifinals and finals of the tournament.

But that didn't affect the Wolves en route to winning the region championship on the Trojan's home court.

Leading 18-16 after the first quarter and 28-27 at the half, Whitehart went to a 1-3-1 defense and that paid huge dividends for Buford in the second half as North Hall managed just nine points in the final two quarters.

"I knew we had the length (to run that defense), but I give credit where credit is due," said Whitehart. "A friend of mine, David Boyd, came over and watched us play. He's the one who said we've got to go with the 1-3-1 with the length we have. It's a little different because it's a funneling. So we installed and we've been holding it in our pocket to use."

The defensive switch came up big as Buford held North to one field goal and a free throw in the third quarter, then two field goals and a free throw in the fourth quarter.

It also triggered the Buford offense as the Wolves created turnovers, leading to fast-break opportunities to build a 40-30 lead after the third quarter and eventually the convincing 14-point win.

A.J. Davis led the Buford attack with 18 points, including a pair of thunderous dunks, and added eight rebounds and four assists in the win.

Kyle Doyle also had a terrific game for Buford with 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Coby Durden added 10 points for Buford, which didn't hit a 3-pointer in the contest.

Buford (22-6) also went 0-for-7 from the free throw line.

But it was the defense on this region-clinching night that made the difference for Buford.

North Hall (25-3), which had won 11 in a row, was led by Ethan Smith's 16 points that included a trio of 3-pointers.

Adam Kelly added 13 points and Griffin Olson had seven as North Hall had just three players find the scoring column in the game.

The Trojans also got 11 of their 36 points from the free-throw line, going 11-of-17.