BUFORD — Defense wins games and so does free throws.
The Buford Wolves were pretty good at both in a 78-57 win over Region 8-5A foe Walnut Grove on Friday at Buford Arena. The Wolves lost at the Grove on Jan. 3, 51-45.
The win lifts Buford to second place in the region, two games behind Cedar Shoals.
The Wolves (15-5, 4-2 Region 8-5A) defense smothered the Warriors (15-4, 3-3 Region 8-5A) in the first half, holding them to just 16 points -- 6 in the second quarter -- to give them a 32-16 cushion and set the tone for the second half.
"I thought we got off to a great start, defensively we held them to 16 points in the first half and that was huge," Buford coach Eddie Martin said. "They can score at will. The fact that we held them to 16 points in the first half gave us a cushion."
The Wolves hit 25-of-38 free throws, 19 in the fourth quarter, including 13 straight from Sebastian Augustave in the fourth quarter. He finished the night 23 points.
Senior forward James Munlyn was a big part of the Wolves fast start in the first quarter. The 6-foot-11 senior scored eight points in the first quarter and finished with 16.
"James has come a long way since the beginning of the season," Martin said. "We're trying to utilize him more on the inside. If he does what he's supposed to do down in there, he's hard to defend and it makes the whole defense to sync around him as well."
The Warriors trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter but climbed back within 11 off a Quantavious Rogers bucket with 3 minutes left. It was one of a handful of runs the Warriors made in the second half.
"We knew they were going to make some runs," Martin said. "But we withstood those runs and hung in there tough and got a real good win for us."
Walnut Grove whittled the Wolves' lead down to 9 points, 66-57, off a Darius Jones 3-pointer with 1:18 left. That was as close as the Warriors would get.
Martin said the win is proof the Wolves, who lost a roster of seniors from last season's Class 5A state title team, are getting better with each game.
"When you talk about the difference in classes, it's not like these kids have grown up together," he said. "So they had to get to know each other. I think the biggest adjustment that we've made is we've gotten better mentally."
Caleb Williams poured in 15 points in the win and was 7-of-12 from the foul line, while Jaylon Tayler turned in a 10-point performance.
BUFORD GIRLS 67,
WALNUT GROVE 32
The Lady Wolves (19-0, 6-0 Region 8-5A) had no problem dispatching the Walnut Grove on Friday at Buford Arena.
Buford roared out to a 45-8 halftime lead behind a stifling defense and steady offense.
Mary McSwain led the Wolves with 12 points and Samiya Wayne chipped in 9 points. In total, 13 Lady Wolves hit the scoring column.