GAINESVILLE -- Kristina Nelson scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter as Buford broke open a close game and went on to knock off Dawson County 60-52 to capture the Region 7-AAA girls basketball title.
Top-seeded Buford (22-4) had bolted out to a 22-13 lead after the first quarter, thanks to a 10-0 run after Dawson County had taken a one-point lead at 13-12.
But Dawson County, the No. 2 seed, began to connect from behind the 3-point arc in the second quarter and pulled to within three at 30-27 going to halftime.
All told, the Tigers hit five 3-pointers in the first half and closed the second quarter on a 9-3 run.
Dawson County (21-5) tied the game at 30-30 on a 3-pointer from Hannah Porter to begin the third quarter.
But Buford quickly regained the lead at 32-30 and eventually took a two-point lead at 39-37 into the fourth quarter.
That's when Nelson did her best work.
The 6-4 senior scored the first five points to open the fourth quarter to give Buford a 44-37 lead.
But Dawson County wouldn't go away as Porter hit her fifth 3-pointer of the night to cut the margin to 52-51 with 2:34 left.
However, that would be the last field goal of the night for Dawson County and Buford hit seven free throws in the final 1:15 to seal the deal and clinch the region crown.
"Any time you go into tournament play, you're going to go through some tough games and we've definitely done that," said Buford head coach Gene Durden. "And it's going to make us better down the line. Dawson County shot the ball well and we just had to keep playing defense tonight and grind it out, which we did."
Along with her 20 points, Nelson also pulled down six rebounds and dished out three assists for the Wolves.
"Kristina came up big when we had to have her," said Durden. "And I give our kids credit for finding her. She was big down the stretch."
Camille Anderson had 14 points, including nine in the first half, to go along with six rebounds and two assists for Buford.
Maya Dillard added 10, including four of Buford's game-clinching free throws down the stretch.
Dawson County was led by Porter's 15 points on five 3-pointers while Carly Gilreath had 13, including two 3-pointers and Ashley Parker added 10, including one trey.
The Tigers finished with 10 3-pointers on the night.