The Buford boys welcomed one of its long-awaited stars on Friday, but the Buford girls are still wondering when their superstar will finally take the court.
The boys got to use 6-foot-7 junior A.J. Davis, a junior who transferred to the school from Greater Atlanta Christian prior to the season. With his eligibility restored by the Georgia High School Association on Friday morning, Davis made his Buford debut against his old school. Despite a few “A.J. Who?” signs on display among the GAC fans at the Long Forum on Friday, Davis received a fairly amiable reception.
Davis helped GAC win the Class AA title last year when he averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds. The son of former NBA player Antonio Davis transferred to Buford, where his twin sister Kaela plays. Kaela Davis went to GAC in middle school, attended Norcross as a freshman and transferred to Buford last year and helped the Wolves win a state championship. A.J. Davis had three points and seven rebounds in his return to the court.
Fans of the Buford girls watched again as Tennessee signee Andraya Carter warmed up again in the pregame drills, but stayed on the bench for the game. Carter is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in a pickup game during the off-season. There was a moment in the first quarter when a hush went through the stands as Carter rose from her seat on the bench and moved toward the table, only to retrieve a clipboard and return to her place. Coach Gene Durden said Carter’s status is a “family and doctor’s decision.”
GAC, Buford split Round I
In what is expected to be the first of several possible meetings between the two dominant programs in Class AA, it was the reigning champions who prevailed. The No. 2 GAC boys turned aside a fourth-quarter comeback by No. 3 Buford for a 54-45 win, while the No. 1 Buford girls held on to beat the feisty ninth-ranked Spartan 51-45.
It was the 11th straight win by the GAC boys over Buford. The Spartans played their typical team-oriented game, one that reflects the philosophy of veteran coach Eddie Martin; they shared the load on offense and played tough, aggressive defense. Collin Swinton led GAC (12-4) with 16 points and Delano Spencer and Isaiah Wilkins each scored 13. Georgia State commit T.J. Shipes led Buford (11-4) with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
The Buford (10-5) girls held off GAC (11-5) thanks largely to center Kristina Nelson, another former GAC player, who scored all of her 16 points in the second half and had nine rebounds. GAC trailed by as many as 10 points, but twice cut the lead to two points in the final quarter, only to have Nelson or Kaela Davis (14 points, 10 rebounds) respond with a clutch basket.
“Playing in this environment against a well-coached, great team like that will do nothing but make you better,” said Buford coach Gene Durden.
“Ultimately their size got us in the end,” said GAC coach Cal Boyd.
Thomasville beats Albany at buzzer
Greg Wimberly banked in the winning basket with 5.4 seconds left as No. 6 Thomasville beat No. 4 Albany 37-36. Wimberly scored all of his eight points in the fourth quarter. Thomasville (7-4) was led by Willie Clayton with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Albany (10-2) got a season-high 15 points from Tyrone Culbreth. Both of Albany’s losses have come in the final seconds.
No. 1 Vidalia (16-1) rolled to a 79-41 win over Jeff Davis. . . . No. 7 Manchester (10-1) rolled over Greenville 71-58 in a non-region game for its eighth straight win. . . . No. 8 Jordan (15-1) won its tenth straight game, an 85-30 victory over Heard County. No. 9 South Atlanta powered past Therrell 64-53.
In other games on Friday, No. 2 Lovett (14-3) trounced Blessed Trinity 74-28. . . . Waiting-to-be-ranked Dublin (11-4) beat East Laurens 49-34, with Quiondra Derrisaw scoring 10 of her 15 points in the third quarter. . . North Oconee (13-3), another team in waiting, won for the 12th time in 13 games and took first place in Region 8-AA South with a 41-32 victory over Elbert County. Jenny Channell had 12 points and Brooke Hubbard scored 10 for the Titans.
Part 3: Region-by-region look at contenders
The next three blogs will look at the contenders in Class AA. Today is a look at the boys teams in Regions 5-8. On Wednesday we’ll look at the girls teams from Regions 5-8.
Region 5: Jordan, Temple and Manchester give the region three very good teams. Jordan (15-1) has won ten straight since their only loss of the season, an overtime loss to Manchester in a non-league game. Temple (11-1) plays at Jordan today. Jordan’s top players are Jamar Sheppard (14.3 points) and Tony Palmer (13.3 points).
Region 6: Buford and Greater Atlanta Christian are the class of Subregion A. South Atlanta is the top team in Subregion B, with Blessed Trinity, Lovett and Jackson a step behind. South Atlanta (9-3) plays at Blessed Trinity on Tuesday night.
Region 7: Model and Coosa are the two best clubs in Subregion A. Model (14-5) has already beaten Coosa twice, once in a league game; they’ll play again on Jan. 27 at Coosa. Shaqueille Calhoun of Model leads the state in scoring, averaging 27.8 points with 3.1 assists. Coosa (14-2) has won four straight by an average of 22.5 points, with Slade Shumate at the point of the attack.
In Subregion B, Dade County (10-5) is averaging 83 points a game and has twice scored 100 points. Dade’s main competition is North Murray, which Dade defeated by a point in their first meeting. The two clubs play again on Jan. 24 at Dade County.
Region 8: Subregion A promises to be quite a contest between East Hall, Rabun County, Dawson County, Union County and Banks County. East Hall will return from three games in Anchorage and jump into the subregion schedule.
In Subregion B, Hart County, Jefferson and Elbert County appear to be the cream of the crop. Hart has already defeated Jefferson and played at Elbert County on Jan. 14. Jefferson will host Oglethorpe County on Tuesday night.