Tuesday May 24th, 2016 11:37PM

7-AAA championship: Buford's defensive change-up stymies North Hall

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE -- Allen Whitehart had an ace up his sleeve on Saturday -- and facing a fired-up North Hall in the Region 7-AAA championship game, the Buford boys basketball coach figured it was time to play it.

Leading 28-27 at halftime, the Wolves came out of the interval employing a 1-3-1 zone defense.

Judging by the results, Buford fans may expect to see plenty more of the scheme this postseason. The set-up bedeviled the Trojans' normally-potent attack, holding North Hall to just nine second half points to help the Wolves pull away for a 50-36 victory in Gainesville.

"I was holding that in my pocket for the right time," Whitehart said. "I actually have to give credit to a friend of mine, David Boyd, who came to see us and said, 'with the length you guys have, you have to go with a 1-3-1.' "

That length, led by 6-foot-8 point guard AJ Davis, clogged passing lanes and harassed the Trojans on the perimeter, allowing just one field goal in the third quarter -- a lay-up from Adam Kelly.

Defensive pressure also led to offense for Buford, including eight points off turnovers, as the Wolves put together a 15-3 run through the third and early into the fourth quarter. The push helped Buford take firm control over the final eight minutes, as North Hall never pulled closer than nine points in a game that had see-sawed through the first half.

"I'm glad we're away from North Hall for a while," said Whitehart, whose team fell to the Trojans at home just eight days ago. "They do an amazing job, and (coach) Benjie (Wood) really does a great job with those guys. I think this whole region has prepared us well for the state tournament."

Buford (23-6) will enter next week's state playoffs as the No. 1 seed from 7-AAA. It will play host to Cedar Grove -- the No. 4 seed from 6-AAA. North Hall (25-3) will also get at least one home game as the No. 2 seed from 7-AAA, taking on Decatur in Gainesville.

The Trojans -- who entered as the No. 1 seed for the 7-AAA tournament -- showed they were prepared for the challenge against Buford in the early going on Saturday, trading baskets with the Wolves, as Ethan Smith and Adam Kelly led the charge with 12 and 10 first half points, respectively. Smith drained two first half 3-pointers to help counter a steady output from Buford. Yet North Hall couldn't keep pace in the second half, despite another 3-pointer from Smith, who finished with a team-high 16. Kelly added 13, while Griffin Olson also scored seven -- the Trojans scoring total for the night.

Buford put together a steady diet of lay-ups and putbacks, punctuated by the occasional dunk, as Davis, Kyle Doyle (6-7), Brad Mapes (6-5) and Coby Durden (6-4) took turns doing the damage. Davis finished with a game-high 18, while Doyle added 12. Durden also finished with 10 on a night when the Wolves hit no 3-pointers and went 0-for-7 from the free throw line.

"It's all about shared sacrifice," Whitehart said. "Tonight AJ had a big night, but the next game it may be Isaiah's turn or Kyle's turn. They're all incredible players."

Despite Buford's height advantage, North Hall battled throughout underneath the basket, pulling down 21 rebounds to Buford's 27. But after Kelly's lay-in with 4:07 left in the third quarter pulled North Hall within 32-29 the Wolves began to pull away, Doyle and Davis forcing turnovers that they converted into breakaway dunks for a 42-30 advantage with 7:32 left to play.
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 2 years ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 2 years ago )
Big Red Shootout: Buford foils Lady Elephants' upset bid in finale
Buford junior Camille Anderson knows to forget about the past during games.
11:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Boys basketball: Knights rebound with win over Centennial
The Johnson boys bounced back after a loss to Grayson on Friday with a 94-72 win Saturday night over Centennial in the Duluth Jingle Jam.
10:43PM ( 2 years ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls in Battle of States finals
Dawson County fell behind early and could not complete the comeback in a 70-65 loss to Hayesville, N.C. in the championship game of The Battle of the States Tournament Saturday night.
10:38PM ( 2 years ago )
High School Sports
Breck Davidson Named to 2016 ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division III All-Region Team
Piedmont College baseball senior Breck Davidson has been honored with a spot on the 2016 ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division III All-Region Third Team, marking his first time on the listing.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:14PM ( 23 minutes ago )
North Georgia's Agar named to ABCA/Rawlings Southeast All-Region team
University of North Georgia senior ace Brandon Agar has been named to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Southeast All-Region Team, the association announced on Tuesday.
By UNG Athletics Communications
11:12PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Gennett's RBI single in 8th lifts Brewers past Braves, 2-1
Scooter Gennett's tiebreaking single in the eighth inning lifted the Milwaukee Brewers to a 2-1 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday night, spoiling Brian Snitker's home debut as the Braves' interim manager.
By The Associated Press
11:09PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Atlanta selected to host Super Bowl thanks in large part to stadium investment
The NFL awarded Super Bowls to Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles, three cities that made significant financial investments in new stadiums or recently upgraded an existing one. Atlanta will host the game in 2019, followed by Miami (2020) and Los Angeles (2021), it was announced Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.
By The Associated Press
7:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
Georgia Tech tops Boston College 6-0 in ACC play-in game
Tristan English, Matt Gonzalez and Trevor Craport each hit home runs to help Georgia Tech beat Boston College 6-0 on Tuesday in an Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament play-in game.
By The Associated Press
7:55PM ( 3 hours ago )