SUWANEE - Mill Creek came out and threw everything it had Norcross on Friday night, but in the end, the Blue Devils showed why they are the top-rated team in the state.
In what was a physical battle, Norcross wore down Mill Creek's boys and pulled away for a 74-55 win over the Hawks in the semifinals of the Region 7-AAAAA tournament at North Gwinnett.
The Blue Devils will defend their region crown tonight at 6 p.m. at North Gwinnett against Collins Hill.
"We have a lot of respect for Mill Creek," Norcross head coach Jesse McMillan said. "They've played us hard all year and when you're competing hard like we did tonight, sometimes emotions come out. They came out and took it right to us."
Mill Creek stayed stride for stride with Norcross (25-1) for two and a half quarters, getting as close as 38-37 with 5:23 left in the third period.
From that point, something snapped in the defending state champs as Norcross went on a 12-0 run, capped off by an alley-oop dunk from Taariq Muhammad to Adrian Hubbard.
"It was a battlefield out there," Hubbard said. "I felt like I was fouled one thousand times. They really gave us everything they had."
Hubbard's inside physical presence resulted him in making six trips to the free throw line where he converted on 10 of 12 attempts as he finished with 18 points to lead Norcross.
"We've been relying on our seniors to lead us because there's only so much us coaches can do," McMillan said. "They have to start making plays and I am proud of how they stepped up tonight."
That 12-0 run in the third quarter put Norcross in control the rest of the game as Mill Creek (12-14) was able to get no closer than seven points.
"I thought we lost some of our defensive intensity and they were able to get more open shots," Mill Creek head coach Phil Bollier said. "When that happened, they started hitting them and we can't give them easy shots like that."
Kyle Speller led Mill Creek with a game-high 19 points while Ronald Wamer scored 12 points. Drew Bollier and Brandon Hayman also each finished with 10 points for the Hawks.
For Norcross, Muhammad had a solid all-around game with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Denzail Jones finished with 15 points, seven of those coming in the fourth quarter.
Mill Creek will play again this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. against Peachtree Ridge for third place.