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Sunday February 7th, 2016 3:39AM

7-AAA tournament: Defense leads Buford into finals

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
GAINESVILLE -- It was hard to tell if Buford boys coach Allen Whitehart was serious or not when he described his team's defensive play as "bipolar."

Regardless of his intent, the Wolves seemed plenty focused on defense Friday night in their Region 7-AAA semifinal game against Dawson County. They held the Tigers to 10-points or less in every quarter en route to a 56-30 win at the North Hall gym.

"They really wanted it on defense tonight," he said. "But sometimes I really think we're bipolar on defense because we'll go through stretches that make me scratch my head and wonder if they've forgotten how. We can play like this every time. The key is staying focused."

The Wolves (21-6) didn't force many turnovers, challenged every pass, and blocked 10 shots in the game. Unofficially they outrebounded Dawson County 34-18 for the game.

The Tigers led just once at 2-0 on a Tyler Dominy basket in the first 30 seconds. Buford would hold the Tigers scoreless over the next five minutes while building a 7-2 lead and eventually taking an 11-8 lead after the first quarter and a 20-15 lead into halftime.

Whitehart said the only halftime speech was to just keep doing what they were doing.

"I told them we were fine and that if we just kept up the defensive intensity things would work out," he said.

They listened.

Buford held the Tigers to just one free throw over the first 6:15 of the third quarter while using a 13-1 run to blow the game open. Dawson County did not score its first field goal until just 1:12 left in the quarter and the Wolves would lead 41-20 once the smoke cleared.

The Tigers would get as close as 17 points, 44-27, early in the fourth quarter on a Dominy 3-pointer but Buford answered with a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Kyle Doyle would pace Buford with 20 points and added eight rebounds and two blocks. Isaiah Williams had 16 points and dished out four assists and A.J. Davis finished with nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, and four blocks for the Wolves.

Dominy, Gunnar Armstrong, and Jonathan Sanderson each had six points to lead Dawson County (21-6).

The Wolves next will take on the North Hall-East Hall winner at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at North Hall for the region title.

Whitehart knows he will need another defensive effort like Friday's to come out with a region title.

"You have to play good defense to win in the playoffs," he said. "Both teams offer tough challenges for us. Ask me after (the finals) to see if we're bipolar or not."

North Hall knocked off Buford at Buford last week to grab the No. 1 seed. The Wolves routed East Hall in their first meeting 102-60 but had to hold on at the buzzer in the rematch for a 59-57 win.

Dawson County will play the loser of the North Hall-East Hall game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the third place game.
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