BUFORD -- Every championship hopeful faces a gut check at some point in its season.
For the Buford girls basketball team, that gut check came in the season opener -- and senior center Bree Horrocks remembers it well.
"Coach (Gene) Durden had us pretty convinced at the start of the season that we were good enough to win state. He told us he believed in us, and we believe everything he says," said Horrocks, whose Lady Wolves fell to Morgan County 54-51 to begin the 2013-14 campaign, "but I'm not going to lie, after the first game when we lost I was questioning how far we would make it."
That questions did not last. The Lady Wolves' belief, however, only grew stronger, and now they find themselves at the precipice of another state championship.
(NOTE: To watch a video feature with Buford's boys and girls basketball teams, click "play" in the box to the right.)
"It was just on the uphill since then, and there was no question about it," said Horrocks, who has helped her team to a Class AAA title game berth against defending champion St. Pius.
There aren't many questions left for the Buford boys either.
Currently riding a 22-game win streak, the Wolves are also just 24 hours removed from a title shot when they will battle Morgan County for the crown in Macon.
Yet while the Lady Wolves are hoping to reclaim a state championship after winning three straight 2009-2011 -- and finishing as runner-up in 2012 -- Buford's boys are gunning their first ever title.
"I think (winning a championship) would open a lot of doors," Wolves coach Allen Whitehart said. "It would finally put us on the map. If you look around here at Buford you that state championships are common, so if we can get one it would definitely get us a seat at the table."
To get it the Wolves will have to win their rubber match of the campaign against Morgan County -- the two foes split contests in the regular season, each winning at home -- and after falling short of the championship game in each of the last two years, Whitehart says there is no shortage of anticipation in the air.
"It's real exciting. You get there once and you don't know if you're ever going to get back so the fact that we're back only a couple of years later is really exciting," said Whitehart, who glimpsed his team's true potential in a loss