BUFORD -- The Buford boys' basketball team continued to play sound defense Wednesday night as the Wolves forced 19 turnovers and rolled to a 61-43 win over Cedar Grove in the opening round of the Class AAA state tournament.
Buford (24-6) held Cedar Grove to single digits in the first three quarters en route to the 18-point win in a game when the Wolves led by as many as 24 in the second half.
That may have come as a surprise against a Cedar Grove team that had won 21 games coming into the matchup with Buford.
But the Saints had dropped their last two games in the Region 6-AAA tournament and gone 3-4 in their last seven contests to fall to a No. 4 seed to start the state playoffs.
That recent downturn for Cedar Grove and the fact that Buford may be playing its best basketball of the season set the stage for the Wolves to advance into the second round.
"We've been playing good defense recently," Buford head coach Allen Whitehart said. "But as I said last week during the region tournament, we're bi-polar defensively. One night we're really good and the next night I'm sitting there scratching my head. Here recently, though, we've been locked in defensively."
However, Cedar Grove (21-7) hung tough early on and led 7-6 midway through the first quarter.
But Buford went on a 12-2 run from the final minutes of the opening quarter into the second to bolt out to an 18-9 lead.
Buford maintained that control by doubling up Cedar Grove 34-17 at halftime and then scored seven straight to start the third quarter and push the margin to 41-17.
From there, Buford's advantage never dropped below 16 as the Wolves led 47-26 at the end of the third quarter and eventually cruised home with the first-round victory.
"I thought we were focused in the first half, but felt like we put it in neutral a little bit in the third quarter," Whitehart said. "I felt like we didn't keep the hammer down. But we'll take a win any time in the state playoffs whether it's one, 20, 10 or five."
Kyle Doyle continued to play well for Buford as the 6-7 senior scored a game-high 17 points.
"Kyle played extremely well and physical and gave us a lot," Whitehart said.
Isaiah Williams added 13 points, including Buford's lone 3-pointer, while A.J. Davis had 11.
Christopher Fredrick had nine points, including two treys, to lead the Cedar Grove attack.
Benjy Parrish had seven points as no Saint broke into double digits.
In fact, Cedar Grove made just 14 field goals with nine two-pointers and five 3-pointers to go along with a 10-for-16 performance at the free throw line.