ALPHARETTA — Nails were bitten. Fans held their breath. Jubilation followed. 

Buford secured its first-ever state championship in lacrosse with a 14-13 win over Lambert.

Buford (21-1) not only made program history, but avenged a 15-13 loss to Lambert in March. The Longhorns had won two of the last three state titles within the classification. 

Buford head coach Tyler Botts hoists the championship trophy — Courtesy of Alex Joyce

It didn’t come easy for Buford, however, and hopes looked bleak at times.

Lambert jumped out to an early 5-1 lead over the Wolves, and had first-quarter control.

Buford wouldn’t hang its head.

“We’ve got a good group of seniors who have been in a lot of different situations,” Buford head coach Tyler Botts said. “The moment doesn’t get too big for them.”

A goal with 18 seconds left in the first, was the spark Buford needed to get back into the game.

Buford, once down 5-1, came roaring back to life by scoring four unanswered goals. 

After tying the game at five, Lambert ended the second quarter with two goals and took a 7-6 lead into halftime.

Lambert continued to build on their lead as it controlled not only the score, but offensive possession early in the third quarter.

Behind 10-6 in the middle of the third, Buford, led by senior Matthew Scruggs, chipped away at Lambert’s four goal lead. Scruggs took over by scoring a pair of goals to bring his team within two.

“He’s invaluable to our team,” Botts said. “He’s tenacious, physical, playing through an injury. Just a heck of a player.”

After another quick score by senior Fritz Whalen, Buford found itself within a goal heading into the final period.

That’s when the game’s fireworks took place.

A back-and-forth scoring affair had the Wolves down one with under two minutes remaining.

With hopes of a first state championship hanging in the balance, sophomore Drew Maloney scored the tying goal with 58 seconds remaining. But celebration would turn into focus as Lambert tried to make a final run to close out the game.

The Longhorns took possession and immediately got within scoring range. But the Buford defense smothered the offensive attack and didn’t allow Lambert to get a final shot off.

The GHSA 7A boys’ lacrosse state championship came down to sudden death in overtime.

As Botts grabbed the clipboard to draw up the overtime play, his players stopped him. 

“They just went out and played offense,” Botts said. “They told me, ‘We got this.’”

With four minutes on the clock, Lambert wins the face off to start overtime. However, Buford quickly stole possession.

After a quick misfire early in the possession, the offense would reset and find Maloney. He made his defender miss and took a shot on goal.

The silence, for a second, hushed the crowd, but was then followed by screams of joy from the Buford fans. Maloney, with his patented kiss to the fans celebration, out overtime with a goal.

Helmets, sticks, and gloves everywhere, Buford players and coaches immediately ran to the stands to celebrate.

The Wolves made the sweetest history.

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