BUFORD -- For the first 3:24 of its Class AAA second round playoff game against Buford Friday night, life was good for Elbert County.
The Lady Blue Devils had an 8-7 lead and had matched the top-ranked Lady Wolves basket for basket. The rest of the 26-plus minutes, however, was a waking nightmare.
The Lady Wolves used a 15-0 run to close out the first quarter as part of a 22-1 explosion in the first half and then cruised to a 59-25 win. The big run erased Elbert County's only lead of the game and made sure the Lady Wolves advanced to their seventh straight Elite 8.
Buford will be joined in the third round of state play by three area girls teams, as fellow Region 7-AAA foe Dawson County defeated North Oconee on Friday, while Towns County surged past Calhoun County in the Class A public bracket. (NOTE: Scroll down for a complete list of area scores and Saturday's boys playoff schedule.)
Few teams, in any bracket, dominated like the Lady Wolves, however.
Buford would hold Elbert County to just 11 points over the next two quarters and a six-minute clock was invoked for the fourth quarter after Buford had expanded its lead to 50-19.
After being plagued by slow starts of late, the Lady Wolves decided to see what life was like on the other side.
"I thought we came out fast and played very well," Durden said of his team's focus early in the game. "I was very pleased to see that."
The Lady Wolves used a suffocating trapping defense to force two dozen Elbert County turnovers and never let the Lady Blue Devils get any offensive rhythm. During Buford's big run they forced five straight turnovers that led to eight points.
McKenzie Darrah and Maya Dillard were a veritable wall for Buford, combining for six steals in the first half. Dillard would also dish out five first half assists, mainly on fastbreak opportunities.
"Our defense was real good tonight and we did a good job of taking them out of their game,"Durden said. "The girls did a good job turning their turnovers into points. Maya played a tremendous game I thought."
Buford used its defense to build a 29-9 lead early in the second quarter and would take a 37-14 lead into halftime. After allowing eight points in the first 3:24 of the game, Buford held the Lady Blue Devils to just 11 points over the next 20:36 heading into the fourth quarter.
Darrah woukd finish with 13 points to lead Buford but also had three rebounds, four steals, and two assists for the game. Dillard would finish with nine points to go with seven assists, four rebounds, and five steals.
Koko Nelson had 10 points, four rebounds, and four assists and Bree Horrocks added nine points and four rebounds for the Lady Wolves.
Elbert County (22-8) was paced by Jimera Hill with nine points and Cyiarra Hill with six points. The Lady Blue Devils were coming off their first playoff win since 1999 after beating North Murray in the first round.
Buford (24-4) next will take on St. Pius on Tuesday in Buford in the quarterfinals.
FRIDAY'S STATE PLAYOFF BASKETBALL RESULTS FOR AREA TEAMS:
Buford girls 59, Elbert County 25
Dawson County girls 58, North Oconee 50
Towns County girls 83, Calhoun County 73
River Ridge girls 44, Chestatee 34
Lovett girls 55, Rabun County 37
SATURDAY'S BOYS STATE PLAYOFF BASKETBALL SCHEDULE:
Mays at Gainesville, 7 p.m. -- Radio: AM 550/102.9 FM
North Hall at Morgan County, 7 p.m.
Gordon Central at Buford, 6 p.m.
Lakeview at Aquinas, 6 p.m.