July 24, 2021

GHSA Elite-8 Preview: Heard Co. Braves vs. University of Buford Wolves

The Lady Braves (24-3) will face a tall order figuratively and literally Friday night when they confront the task of meeting the Buford Wolves (23-7) in Dalton, Ga at the GHSA Elite-8.

The Wolves are not an unfamiliar opponent to Coach Valeree Williams and her girls. They fell victim to Buford 72-36 just last year at Buford in the Sweet-16.

A casual observance of this year’s records might indicate a fairly even match-up, but the reality is that the Lady Braves will be huge underdogs to the three-time defending state champs who boast several of the nation’s top female athletes.

Senior point guard Andraya Carter, a 4-star prospect who has verbally committed to the Tennessee Volunteers, is ranked by ESPN as the #20 prospect in the country.

Carter severely dislocated her shoulder near the end of the first half in the 53-45 Sweet-16 win over North Oconee.

It appeared she would not return, but later in the fourth quarter with the Wolves down six points she re-entered and played the rest of  the game literally single handedly because she could not use her right hand.

Despite her handicap, the Wolves on a 10-0 run that clinched the victory. Senior Emily Adams, a 6’4″ post player already committed to Wagner, is also a force inside and a 3-star prospect.

Junior Kaela Davis (6’2″ wing) might be the top prospect of all. She is currently ranked as the #2 prospect in the nation for the class of 2013. Senior Kallie Case will not be signing a basketball scholarship only because she has already committed to the University of Alabama as a softball player.

Despite the enormity of the challenge at hand, Williams feels her surging team can compete with the Wolves.

“I feel good about our chances if our girls can forget the name on the jerseys and just play our game. Although we lost big last year in Buford we only trailed by 11 at halftime. We return our same five starters from that game and we are doing the same things this year only we are doing them better.” -Valeree Williams

Williams will depend on the hot-handed combo of Jemeka Parks and Reece Walker to carry her team on offense.

She knows AliyahRutledge will face a tough task inside with four of the Buford girls standing well over 6-feet tall. Rutledge is 6-feet exactly and the rest of the Braves team is very small. The monster size advantage will be nothing new for the Braves as they have faced big teams all year.

A big key might be the continued consistent play of Jasmine Cook and Shemeka Parks who have really been strong defensively.

While on paper the task might seem insurmountable, in reality these Brave girls have proven time and time again this season that they do have heart, they do have the determination, and they will fight to the very end because the prize is that big.

The Brave Nation will be fully behind the Lady Braves who are just three wins away from making history and hoisting Heard County’s first ever GHSA State Championship trophy in any sport.

Heard Co. Lady Braves vs. Buford Lady Wolves


WHEN: Friday Night (7:00pm tip-off)

WHERE:Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center

ADDRESS: 2211 Dug Gap Battle Road, Dalton, GA 30720

MAPS/DIRECTIONS: I-75 North to Exit 333, turn West onto Walnut Avenue. Continue 1/4 mile up the hill and turn left into the convention center parking lot. Click here for map.

RECORDS: Braves (24-3), Wolves (23-7)

COACHES: Braves -Valeree Williams (2nd season), Wolves -Gene Durden (24 seasons, 7 with Buford)

SEEDINGS: Braves (#1  Region 5-AA), Wolves (#1  Region 6-AA)

GEORGIA RANKINGS: Braves(NR-Coaches, #9-AJC),Wolves(#4-Coaches, #3-AJC)

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Braves 2307, Wolves 271 (Max-Preps)

AVERAGE SCORING MARGIN:Braves 58 -42, Wolves 58 -37

COLORS: Braves (Maroon/Gray), Wolves (Green, Gold, White)

GAME UNIFORMS: Braves (HOME-White), Wolves (VISITOR-Green)

SENIORS: Braves 1, Wolves 4

LAST MEETING: Wolves 72, Braves 36 (2011 Sweet-16)

WINNER: Winner will advance to meet the winner of Brooks Co./Putnam Co. @ The Macon Centreplex, March 8 (7:00)

ADMISSION: $10 (No signs, noisemakers, etc. allowed)

TRANSPORTATION: For information on the Charter Bus call Jennifer Parks at (706)594-5046 (Departs HHS@ 2:00pm, $15)


  1. Good article and good luck. They are big at all positions. The only part of the Article that isn’t true is that Carter got hurt with less than 30 seconds to go in the half..she did come back in and rally their defense but only scored 3 points in the game. The shoulder didn’t seem to be bothering her at all…she favors the knee more. N. Oconee lead in the first by 6 at one point and again in every period and did take a 6 point lead with 6 minutes to go but he size advantage and the fact that Buford shot and made every free throw late. Good luck!

  2. Russ Massa says

    Thank you for the input I adjusted the article to note the additional information. Congrats to North Oconee on a fine season.

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