LILBURN - The Wesleyan girls have the national ranking, but it is cross-street neighbor Norcross that owns the bragging rights to Spalding Drive.
"We wanted to show that we're a team to be feared, too," Norcross standout Tiffany Clarke said. "I think we proved that with this game."
The Blue Devils certainly did.
Norcross led from start to finish and beat Wesleyan 70-56 on Monday in the semifinals of the Parkview Tip-Off Classic sponsored by Lee Sports as Vanderbilt-signee Clarke led the way with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
"I'm really proud of these girls," Norcross coach Angie Hembree said. "That is a really good team that we beat."
Norcross (2-0) will play host Parkview (3-0) today at 7 p.m. for the tournament championship. The Blue Devils were the No. 8 team in the GaSports.com/GACA preseason rankings, while Parkview was No. 6.
Parkview advanced with a 65-48 victory over Loganville as Enjoli Johnson had 16 points, Lauren Coleman 14 and Maggie Smith 11.
Ahead by four at halftime, the Panthers scored the first 15 points of the third quarter to go up by 19 and led 42-25 going into the final quarter.
Norcross took a 17-9 first-quarter lead against Wesleyan, led 34-22 at halftime and took control again in the fourth quarter after the Wolves cut the lead to five points in the third. Clarke had 20 points in the second half.
Wesleyan standout Anne Marie Armstrong hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the Wolves' third-quarter run, but Norcross pulled away after entering the final quarter with a 51-44 lead.
Armstrong, a Georgia signee, finished with 22 points, but just two came in the first half as Norcross establish authority early. The Wolves are ranked No. 9 nationally by USA Today and No. 22 by ESPN.com.
"Wesleyan has great outside shooters and we wanted to get in their faces," Hembree said. "We did a great job of that in the first half."
Briana Jordan and Anjelica Wilcox - transfers from Greater Atlanta Christian - got Norcross off to a fast start offensively. Jordan had 12 of her 15 points in the first half and Wilcox seven of her nine.
"We were ready to play," Jordan said. "Wesleyan was always a big rival. We were GAC again for a day."
Bianca O'Neal, Norcross' little point guard, also had a strong game. She had 11 points, four assists and four rebounds.
Norcross enjoyed an edge in rebounding and a big advantage at the foul line. The Blue Devils shot 27 free throws, hitting 18, while Wesleyan was 1-for-3.
Wesleyan coach Jan Azar voiced her displeasure with the way the game was being called and drew a technical foul in the fourth quarter. "It is hard to win a game when you have that much difference in free throws," she said afterward.
Greater Atlanta Christian (1-1) will play Sandy Creek (2-1) in the girls fifth-place game today. The Spartans routed Tri-Cities 56-27 as Clarke Boards scored 15 points and Chaney Means added 12.