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Local powers could meet in tourney

Although located across the street from each other, Norcross and Wesleyan have played against each other only once in girls basketball.

If there is a second meeting this year, it will happen more than 350 miles away.

The defending state champions are both in the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational, which begins Saturday at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

If Norcross (7-0) and Wesleyan (8-0) face each other, it won’t be until Thursday. That is when the championship game and consolation finals are played in the 16-team tournament.

Norcross, ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today, gets one of the four early starts, playing co-host Socastee at 5:45 p.m. Saturday in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The remaining four first-round games are Monday, with Wesleyan getting the 7 p.m. game against Marion, S.C.

Wesleyan, No. 1 again in Class A, played in the tournament last year, going 2-2 and placing sixth. The Wolves have won three straight state titles, including Class A the past two seasons, and seven championships in nine years.

Norcross, which is the defending Class AAAAA winner and ranked No. 1 again, is in the Crescent Bank Classic for the first time after playing in the Nike Tournament of Champions a year ago and going 2-2 in Arizona.

The only meeting between Norcross and Wesleyan came two seasons ago, the Blue Devils winning in the Parkview Tip-Off Classic.

Redan won the Crescent Bank title last December, defeating Spring Valley, S.C., 58-53. Redan was the team that Norcross beat for the AAAAA title, the Blue Devils’ ending the Raiders’ long winning streak.

Nine of the 16 teams return to Myrtle Beach, but Redan isn’t one of them. The other Georgia teams are Stephenson, ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA, and Fayette County, which finished fourth in Myrtle Beach a year ago.

If Stephenson and Spring Valley both win their opening games, they would meet in one of Tuesday’s quarterfinals with Wesleyan a possible semifinal opponent. Norcross is on the other side of the bracket, where Troy of Fullerton, Calif., could loom.

Norcross has already beaten teams ranked No. 3 (Milton) and No. 5 (McEachern) in Class AAAAA, as well as Fayette County, which is No. 5 in Class AAAA. Wesleyan owns a victory over Hoover, the defending Class AAAAAA state champion in Alabama.

The Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational began in 1998 as a girls compliment to the Beach Ball Classic, begun in 1981 and one of the top boys tournaments in the country. The Beach Ball Classic is held after Christmas and this year will include defending Class AA state champ Greater Atlanta Christian, Class AAAA winner Miller Grove and Wheeler.

Miller Grove is ranked No. 3 nationally by USA Today after beating defending Class AAAAA state champion Milton, which started the season ranked No. 1 by USA Today.

The Norcross boys will be playing in South Carolina before Christmas, competing in the Chick-fil-A Classic outside Columbia from Tuesday to Thursday. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 20 nationally by USA Today in the preseason, but are off to a 2-6 start.