Saturday May 28th, 2016 9:58PM

Class AAA playoffs: Buford teams sweep into second round

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
BUFORD -- On a night when area teams were dropping like flies in the state tournament, both Buford teams made sure quickly they would not be on the list in the Class AAA playoffs.

The Buford girls used a 25-0 first half run en route to a 64-29 win over Ringgold while the Buford boys exploded for a 30-6 run in the first half behind D'Marcus Simonds on the way to a 68-34 win over North Murray in the first round of the playoffs.

The girls will play again on Monday at home and the boys will play on Tuesday at home in the Sweet 16. Opponents and tip-off times have yet to be determined.

In the boys game, Region 7-AAA Player of the Year D'Marcus Simonds was the catalyst for Buford. The sophomore guard finished with 19 points, nine assists, and six steals in just over three quarters of work.

But an even more welcome sign for Buford coach Allen Whitehart was seeing his regulars shoot 8-for-10 from 3-point range through the first three quarters.

"D'Marcus is playing very well for us right now," Whitehart said. "I thought we played real well as a team and that is something we're trying to improve on. We're really starting to jell.

"I was real pleased with how we shot the ball. I would love to see us do that every game but we've been kind of erratic. Hopefully this was a good sign."

It was a similar slow start for the Wolves (24-5) as North Murray came out strong in the opening minutes taking a 3-0 lead on a Drake McGowan basket and free throw. After a Simonds dunk for the first Buford points, McGowan made it 5-2 on a nice turnaround jumper.

Taylor Mills would hit the first of three first half 3-pointers to tie the game at 5 and then the Wolves exploded behind Simonds, who directed the offense with precision. Simonds dished out four assists on consecutive possessions and then closed out the first quarter with a basket as Buford finished the quarter with an 11-0 run for an 18-7 lead.

The Wolves continued the onslaught with a 14-4 run to open the second quarter. A Simonds steal and layup near the end of the quarter gave Buford a 39-13 halftime lead.

"D'Marcus is a phenomenal player and can do a lot of things on the court," Whitehart said. "He makes us go on offense."

Buford would build its biggest lead of the night on a Simonds 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter with a 60-22 lead.

Rakim Lubin added 13 points and four rebounds for Buford. Mills finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers for the Wolves.

Freshman guard Noah Allen paced North Murray (15-12) with 10 points.


After a sluggish offensive start, the Lady Wolves defense ignited a 25-0 first half run en route to the big win in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs.

Buford (27-2) led just 10-8 midway the first quarter before the Lady Wolves trap began to take its toll on the Lady Tigers. Buford forced seven consecutive turnovers in the first and second quarters leading to 14 points in a 25-0 run.

When the smoke cleared Buford had pushed its lead to 35-8 with 4:37 left in the second quarter. That would be as close as Ringgold (6-21) would get the rest of the way.

Bree Horrocks helped set the tone early with 10 of Buford's first 16 points to go with two rebounds, one assist, and one block in the opening nine minutes. The second quarter was the difference as Buford outscored the Lady Tigers 29-4 in the quarter to lead 43-12 at halftime.

Buford would lead by as many as 36 points three times in the second half. The Lady Tigers best highlight came when Karoline Sholl hit a half-court 3-point shot at the buzzer to end the third quarter with Buford leading 56-22.

The Buford defense forced 29 turnovers in the game, 11 coming on steals.

Horrocks finished with a game-high 14 points for Buford despite sitting most of the second half after the reserves went into the game. Zikaya Wright had 10 points and Chandler Hall eight points off the bench for the Lady Wolves.

Bethany Headrick had 13 points to lead Ringgold.
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