Led by Tory Ozment, the Buford girls defeated region rival Flowery Branch for the fourth time this season and successfully defended their Class AAAAA championship on Thursday at the Macon Coliseum.
Buford (29-3) beat Flowery Branch 60-49 to secure its third championship in the last four years for the outgoing senior class. It was the school’s sixth state title since 2009.
Ozment, a Michigan State signee, was the centerpiece of the effort. She scored 28 points, including three 3-pointers, and had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“She did it all tonight,” Buford coach Gene Durden said. “She did a great job controlling the game. We needed her to play well to be successful against good teams. Sometimes we just turn her loose and let her to it and tonight she did a great job.”
Ebony Grant scored 12 points and Tate Walters had eight points for the Wolves.
Flowery Branch (26-7) got 18 points and 14 rebounds from Alabama signee Taniyah Worth, who fouled out late in the game. Caroline Wysocki added 10 points and three steals.
Flowery Branch led for much of the first quarter before Buford began a 9-2 run that carried over into the second period and gave the Wolves a 16-11 lead.
Flowery Branch was twice able to cut the lead to one, only to have Ozment answer with a 3-point basket each time. Buford led 30-23 at the half.
Flowery Branch used a 6-0 run, two of the baskets coming on driving layups by Worth, and cut the lead to 32-29 with 5:42 left in the third quarter, causing Buford to call timeout. Buford’s Tate Walters came of the break with a 3-pointer to restore order. Flowery Branch never got closer than four points the rest of the night.
“One thing we’ve done every year that we know they have trouble with, is we can go to our half-court defense and they have a hard time scoring against us,” Durden said. “We felt like we gave them too many easy opportunities in the press, so we came out and turned it into a halfcourt game. We can grind and we grinded it out.”
Buford won both regular-season meetings and defeated Flowery Branch in the Region 8 championship game. The No. 1-ranked Wolves have won seven straight games against the Falcons, but the state championship game was the sweetest, Durden said.
“I’m so happy this senior group has three state championship in the last four years,” Durden said. “I can’t be more proud of them. This is the cherry on top of the cake, it was something they wanted. They worked hard and fought a whole four years. Having as much pressure on them and having to deliver, it was great for them to do it.”