Posted: Saturday, March 2nd 2013 at 10:18pm
Boys playoffs: Time runs out on Buford in loss to Savannah
By Morgan Lee Editor
Buford's A.J. Davis, left, defends against a Savannah High player in the Wolves' Class AAA semifinal loss on Saturday in Savannah.
SAVANNAH -- Buford had plenty of late looks and opportunities -- the ball just would not fall.
The Wolves battled Savannah every step of the way but could not come up with the killer shot inside the final minute in a 54-50 loss to the Blue Jackets in Savannah.
“We did have some looks at it, but I think fatigue was a factor; it was a hard-fought game out there,” Buford coach Allen Whitehart said. “I’m proud that our kids fought back and showed a no-quit attitude.”
The Wolves (27-6) clawed their way back from a 13-point third quarter deficit and pulled as close as 44-42 early in the fourth quarter, but Savannah (28-3) answered every Buford charge, coming up with just enough baskets and rebounding to hold on to the victory.
“It was a physical game, but that wasn’t what decided it,” Whitehart said. “We just didn’t execute. This was part of a growing process for us.”
Buford created two 3-point opportunities inside the final seconds -- but couldn’t find the bottom of the net, Savannah rebounding both loose balls to help end what has been a roller-coaster season for Buford, which has dealt with far more than losses on the court after the death teammate Adam Smith during preseason conditioning in September.
“We were playing for each other out there and for a young man who’s no longer with us,” Whitehart said. “I think that showed late. I’m so proud of these guys and how they’ve dealt with everything.”
Buford turned up its defensive intensity down the stretch, forcing five fourth quarter turnovers after Savannah had just five in the first half. The takeaways resulted in plenty of transition points for the Wolves, who responded to Savannah’s 12-0 third quarter run with a 17-6 push. Kyle Doyle’s lay-in with 6:01 left pulled Buford within 44-42, but Savannah responded with baskets from Tyreese Rivers and Jovante Spivey to give the Blue Jackets vital breathing room.
Jamal Norman led Savannah with 16, while Spivey scored 14 and Jason Lawton finished with 10 -- all in the second half, including two key 3-pointers.
Buford’s A.J. Davis led all scorers with 21, while Doyle added 13 and Isaiah Williams 10.
Davis signaled his intentions from the start, scoring Buford’s first six points, including a thunderous dunk, as the Wolves sprinted to an 8-2 lead. The senior finished the first half with 10 points.
Savannah struggled to find its scoring touch early, but the Blue Jackets fought their way back via baskets from Spivey and Norman, sparking a 12-2 run that yielded a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter.
Norman continued to pour it on before halftime, scoring eight second quarter points to finish with 12 for the half -- including back-to-back baskets inside the final two minutes that helped Savannah to a 26-22 halftime lead.
Williams kept the Wolves close, draining two 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Savannah turned up the pressure in the third quarter, responding to a Davis steal and dunk to open the half with a 12-0 run fuelled by Spivey and Lawton -- including back-to-back 3-pointers for a 38-25 lead with 2:55 left in the third quarter.
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