DAWSONVILLE -- Whenever a game gets tight, Buford girls basketball coach Gene Durden can rest a little easier knowing Kaela Davis is on the floor.
Such was the case Tuesday in Dawsonville, when -- after watching Dawson County pull within 45-40 late in the third quarter -- Davis led the Lady Wolves out of danger with 10 straight points, sparking a 12-2 run and an eventual 71-57 Buford victory.
The second half charge proved just one piece of an explosive night for the senior guard, who poured in 43 points -- including five 3-pointers and a 12 of 15 effort from the free throw line.
"She shines when the pressure is on, and she wants the ball in her hands," Durden said of Davis. "She scored in every way she could tonight, and that proved big for us. It was a career best for her at Buford."
The Lady Wolves (10-3, 6-0 Region 7-AAA) needed every one of Davis's points over the first three quarters, as Dawson County (13-2, 3-2) fought back from numerous deficits, trailing 17-10 after the first quarter and 32-22 at the half.
And even though Buford scored five straight points to start the third quarter, Dawson County hung tough and and cut into the visitors' advantage on Kenna Seitz's 3-pointer with 1:43 remaining before Kacie Bearden's long jumper closed the Lady Tigers within 45-40 with 1:03 left in the third.
As she had done throughout, however, Davis found all the answers, scoring on a breakaway, drilling two 3-pointers and sinking two free throws to regain Buford's cushion. And by the time Maya Dillard sank a lay-in with 5:30 left to play, the Lady Wolves owned a 57-42 lead that would never shrink to single digits. Davis also helped ensure that by hitting none of 10 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
McKenzie Darrah also scored 14 points for Buford, while Bree Horrocks added nine points. The post duo also helped the Lady Wolves outrebound Dawson County 36-29.
The Lady Tigers were led by 15 points from Sheyenne Seabolt, while Carly Gilreath added 12. Ashley Parker also scored 10, as Dawson County sank six 3-pointers to stay within striking distance for much of the contest.
"We didn't bring a lot of energy tonight as a team, but because of our situation at Buford right now that's understandable," Durden said, reflecting on another tragedy for the Wolves community after Buford Middle School student and basketball player Jeremy Nelson -- brother of Lady Wolves standout Kristina Nelson -- passed away suddenly on Saturday. Nelson's death followed the death of Buford varsity boys basketball player Adam Smith in the fall. Wolves assistant coach Ryan Daniel also passed away suddenly in January 2012, while Durden's son also recently succumbed to injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Following the contest, both teams gathered to pray at midcourt in support of the Nelson family.
Buford will look to keep rolling on Friday against West Hall at home.
Dawson County, meanwhile, will look to bounce back on Friday at North Hall.