Class AA Girls: Lovett 52, Buford 42

By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC

Who knew Lovett’s Sydney Umeri could shoot threes?

Sydney Umeri did.

The 6-foot-1 junior, a nationally-ranked player who usually does most of her offensive damage on the low block, stepped out and drilled three long range bombs during a 22-point third quarter that propelled the Lions (28-5) to a 52-42 win over Buford (25-8) in the Class AA final, Saturday in Macon.

The win prevented the Wolves from capturing their fourth consecutive state title. For Lovett, it is the first basketball state championship, girls or boys, for the school. Buford had won the two previous meetings this season between the Region 6 rivals, downing the Lions during the regular season (58-44) on Jan. 21 and in the region tournament championship game (45-39) on Feb. 18.

“It just shows how much my game has developed and how much our team has developed this season,” said Umeri. She had just two points in the first half as Lovett held a 15-14 lead at intermission.

“I got in foul trouble in the first half. In the second half I told myself that I had to come out and do something to help our team win this championship,” said Umeri, who finished with 13 points. “Our team deserved it and especially our seniors deserved it.”

Two of those seniors stepped up big time in the second half as well, particularly in the fourth quarter. Guard Tatianna Jackson, who led all scorers with 20 points, scored 12 in the second half with seven coming in the fourth quarter, and forward Christen Johnson scored eight of her 12 points in the final period. Together, they helped stave off a comeback by the Wolves, who trailed by 12 midway through the third quarter.

After applying some full court pressure, Buford trimmed the lead to four, 39-35, with four minutes left after a lay up on a strong move to the basket by junior guard Kaela Davis. The daughter of former NBA veteran Antonio Davis led the Wolves with 14 points, nine in the fourth. Her bucket off of a Buford steal made the score 41-37, Lovett, with just over three minutes left.

The Wolves appeared to have forced another Lovett turnover on the Lions’ next possess when an errant pass looked like it was about to roll out of bounds along the baseline. But Jackson flashed in from the high post, retrieved the ball and banked it in. The bucket started an 8-3 run over the games final two minutes the sealed the deal.

“We just knew this was our game. We knew we could beat them,” said Jackson, who has signed with Chattanooga. “We knew we had a great team and we came out more aggressively in the second half.”

“We have a lot of respect for Buford. They’re a great team,” said Johnson, who has signed with Northwestern. “But we definitely came in fired up. We wanted this game.”

Lovett head coach Liz Kennedy applauded her team’s resolve in withstanding the fourth quarter run by the three-time state champions.

“That is just an amazing team over there, so talented,” Kennedy said. “They have done a phenomenal job building that program. But I just had the feeling that this was our year, and when the ball started bouncing our way, it just all came together.”

The game was the final one in the high school career of Tennessee-bound guard Andraya Carter, who is still battling back from knee surgery and suffered a separated shoulder earlier in the season. Buford’s championship run began during Carter’s freshman year.

“Andraya Carter has been the foundation of this program,” said Buford head coach Gene Durden, who led the Wolves to all three titles. “To see her battle the way she did this season and give everything she had says so much about her and who she is.”

Lovett 52: Tatianna Jackson 20; Sydney Umeri 13; Christen Johnson 12; Julia Selman 3; Taylor Brown 2; Carrie Mutombo 2.

Buford 42: Kaela Davis 14; Kristina Nelson 9; MacKenzie Darrah 5; Kallie Case 4; Andraya Carter 4; Emily Adams 4; Maya Dillard 2.

20 comments Add your comment

Kman

March 11th, 2012
3:04 am

Well well, well…..Buford you finally played another team who can recruit just as you do, and it did`nt work out so good…..how does it feel? What goes around ,comes around eventually!

theoriginalbluesbrother

March 11th, 2012
6:49 am

Hatas will always hate. :-s

Congrats to the Lovett Lady Lions on a well-deserved victory and Thank You to our Lady Wolves for living up to the words in our fight song, “We may lose but we’ll never quit.” Very proud of your efforts.

Michael J

March 11th, 2012
10:00 am

Too bad for Buford. Definitely have to step up those recruiting efforts. Must be a real disappointment having recruited Davis and Carter and still can’t close the deal. LOL. There is nothing to be proud of about this school’s athletic program or its administration

coach

March 11th, 2012
12:17 pm

two teams that recruit, someone had to loose. yes all the schools who don’t recruit

goforit

March 11th, 2012
3:57 pm

Carter has 3 rings…Played hurt all year–Get a life………..

Michael J

March 11th, 2012
6:34 pm

Now Buford has excuses???? It is getting funnier and more enjoyable with each post

Rob

March 11th, 2012
8:14 pm

Haha, Kaela is Dale Davis’ daughter? Wow, might want to tell Antonio that. Good reporting though.

Kman

March 11th, 2012
9:25 pm

You see what I`m talking about……how does one school like Buford, who is not supposed to be private…..keep coming up with super star players year after year after year? They always all of A sudden transfer from other schools like Norcross, as Davis did. It seems all of the talented girls who are at least 6ft or taller….all of A sudden want to buy A house in the Buford area! C`mon man!

kmn

March 11th, 2012
10:55 pm

You do not have to buy a house in the Buford area just pay the tution fee. You can live wherever you want too.

1withL0g!c

March 12th, 2012
8:30 am

Regarding the many, flagrant “recruiting” accusations. Buford does NOT recruit. Buford does NOT need to recruit. Buford ATTRACTS strong talent. Parents of children with athletic oromise seek programs and coaches that facilitate improvement for the athlete. Buford offers exactly that. Have you seen their facilities? They are top notch. Are you familiar with the sports therapy resources available? They are unmatched. Do you want your child to strive for strong character and values with the skills? That’s Buford. One of the last golden unadulterated gems that hasn’t fallen to the county school rules. Why is it, if academics were my kid’s ticket, I could buy or move my way into any program, any school at any time throughout my child’s high school career and NO ONE would challenge that transition? But making the same move for the same reason to further my child’s athletic advancement? Suddenly it’s taboo. Again, from someone who made the same decision for their child…Buford does NOT recruit. They ATTRACT. No one came knocking on our door. We did the knocking.

S. Thomas Coleman

March 12th, 2012
8:53 am

@Rob: Thanks for pointing out the error! My apologies to Antonio and family. The story has been corrected.

S. Thomas Coleman
s.thomascoleman@yahoo.com

Michael J

March 12th, 2012
12:27 pm

LOL. Buford doesn’t recruit!! hahahaahahahhahha. We keep forgetting this is high school

coach

March 12th, 2012
1:01 pm

So if they attract some many kids why does the enrollment stay the same. Why wouldn’t the school be overcrowded if so many parents want their kids to go there.

goforit

March 12th, 2012
1:15 pm

Michael J–you must be from loserville MILL CREEK !!!

kmn

March 12th, 2012
6:42 pm

You cant just go knocking on the door of most public schools You have to live in the district. At Buford you do not have to live in distric. Thats a hugh advantage.

sickntiredofyourcomplaining

March 12th, 2012
7:38 pm

Buford High DOES NOT RECRUIT, the PARENTS SUCH AS MYSELF; sought out the school. No one approached us. If you all put away your envy for a moment, you will see the big picture. Parents wanting better for their children. Why not be a part of a school program that push your kid to be more than average. It’s people out there with comments such as the ones that I’ve seen, heard and read; that only wants to settle for MEDIOCRE. If you are a child that and are writting these comments then that only means that you are getting this ugliness from your parents…shame on them. Like the old saying goes, IF YOU KNOW BETTER, THEN YOU DO BETTER, and it’s obvious that the parents that moved their children to BUFORD HIGH, knew better so they did better.

CONGRATULATIONS BUFORD LADY WOLVES YOU HAD A GREAT SEASON!!!!

Kman

March 13th, 2012
2:48 am

sickntired…..the only reason you`re tired is because everybody else is correct. Dont give me that learning an education crap If A person REALLY wants to learn……they can and WILL learn anywhere….whether its at Buford or any other school! Besides…..we`re talking about sports and the unfair advantage some schools have to face……not SATS.

1withL0g!c

March 13th, 2012
8:08 am

“coach” – Buford attendance is growing. Check the enrollment trends, 777 in 2009, 854 in 2010 a 10% increase. Fayetteville dropped 10% (-713) in light of Clayton County struggling accreditation and home owners are under water with mortgages as property values plummet. Dropouts or transfer-outs? Kman, keep this thought..
Michael J – no seriously, Buford does not recruit, they attract. I wish they did recruit. It would imply better control. Not all that is golden is good.

“Kman” – Yes, a student/athlete could excel individually anywhere. Hmmm…as an academic, if you could choose, would you prefer Clayton County or Gwinnett? A degree at Georgia Southern or Georgia Tech? As an athlete, would you prefer to play for University of Tennessee or Austin Peay? It’s not only about the individual’s ability but the return on the investment. I can follow a pastor and his congregation anywhere because I believe in it and grow it’s church and revenues. I can buy into the right neighborhood because I desire it, protect my investment and surrounding properties. I can place my child in any academic program of higher recognition because I trust in it and increase the test averages. But I can’t place my athlete in a better program without raising an eyebrow? It’s absent logic.

Lovett Parent

March 13th, 2012
8:57 am

OMG! I know this is what a blog is about, freedom of speech, negativity, criticism, etc. So, on a positive note (haven’t read any others) I would just like to congratulate the Lady Lovett Lions on their State Championship; and the Lady Buford Wolves on their collective and individual victories on and off the court.

Kman

March 16th, 2012
2:34 am

I`m sorry ……but A true education is MAJOR where ever you can get it! Does`nt matter if it`s from Devry! The main thing is Learning…….that is what is golden…….not the prestige of the school itself! The school is just A building……the mind is the real tool…..and you dont have to go to Harvard Yale or Georgia Tech for that.