In a classic championship game between two of the best teams in Region 8-AAAAA, the Buford Wolves beat the Cedar Shoals Jaguars 88-86 to capture the title and a number one seed in the postseason.
Coming into the game the season series was split with each team winning on their home court. The Wolves won 73-49 in January while the Jags won by a slimmer margin of 67-61 earlier in the season.
Height was key as the Wolves outrebounded the Jags 31 to 18. This deficit was a rare sight for the Jags with Canty normally coming down with boards. But with 6’11” James Murphy at center and 6’5” Jaylon Taylor at forward,Wolves made possessions difficult for the Jags.
“He really perfected his mid range from last”, Canty said about Jaylon Taylor’s performance.”He has a very soft touch and he knows how to finish around the rim. Obviously he’s really athletic, catching lobs, getting putback dunks, getting offensive and defensive rebounds.”
Despite this disadvantage off the glass the Jaguars pulled within three points at 86-83 with less than a minute remaining after an 11-5 run. The Jaguars had the ball and drew a play up for Canty to shoot a three point attempt from the top of the key.
The play went as planned with Canty getting the ball, but Canty got hit on the wrist and no foul was called on the play. The Jags would get the ball back only to be stolen by Buford forcing the Jags to foul and ending their chances at a region championship.
“I was supposed to set a screen for Tyler under the basket and he’s supposed to come get in the corner,” said Canty. “If he doesn’t get to the corner then I go to the middle and two guys are supposed to close so they can’t get to me. But I ended up getting fouled and they didn’t call it.”
Associate head coach Grant Moro also believes Canty was fouled on the play and was surprised the referees didn’t see it.
“You’ve got about a 45-percent three point shooter airball a ball short, so that doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Moro. “We’ve ran this play for years and were able to execute well. It was a tough play, but we just tried to regroup and get through.
While this was a demoralizing loss for the Jaguars, the state playoff still looms ahead for Cedar. With a home opener this Saturday against the Carver Panthers, the Jags must shift their mental focus to the game ahead.
“We have to put that game behind us and look forward to the next,” said sophomore guard Jerdavian Colbert. ”The focus is winning the state championship.”