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Norcross girls face unbeaten team

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — If Norcross wasn’t the out-of-state favorite coming into the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational, the Blue Devils certainly are now.

After a long bus ride from Georgia, the Norcross girls turned their first-round basketball game Saturday into a rout of stunning proportions.

Basketball

Who: Norcross girls vs. South Central (N.C.)

When: Today, 3:30 p.m.

Where: Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The Blue Devils — ranked No. 5 nationally by MaxPreps.com and No. 6 by USA Today — led co-host Socastee 53-0 early in the second half and won 63-5 to advance to today’s quarterfinals at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The defending Class AAAAA state champions will get a bigger challenge this time.

The Blue Devils (9-0) meet unbeaten South Central of Winterville, N.C., at 3:30 p.m. today. South Central (7-0) posted a 49-39 victory over Southside of Greenville, S.C., in its opener on Saturday.

“There are a lot of good teams in this tournament,” Norcross coach Angie Hembree said. “That’s why we’re here. We want to play the best competition that we can.”

Socastee (3-4) was no competition at all in the first round. The local team got off just 16 shots and committed 34 turnovers. The only points for the Braves came on two free throws and a 3-pointer.

No starter played more than 12 minutes for Norcross and the Blue Devils’ stats leader was sophomore reserve Shiala Cooper with 11 points, six rebounds and three steals.

Blue Devils sophomore standout Diamond DeShields had nine points, while Wake Forest signee Dearica Hamby scored eight and fellow senior Alex DeMercy added seven points as 13 players scored for the Blue Devils.

In the other quarterfinal today involving Saturday winners, Fayette County will play Troy of Fullerton, Calif., in the 5:15 p.m. game.

Fayette County (6-1) advanced with a 48-35 victory over Bishop McGuinness of North Carolina. Troy (4-1) defeated Goose Creek 48-32, handing South Carolina’s defending Class AAAA champion its first loss after six wins.

Fayette County lost to Norcross 55-27 on Dec. 4 but is ranked No. 3 among Class AAAA teams in Georgia and No. 22 nationally by MaxPreps.com.

The Blue Devils are obviously a confident team.

“If we play Norcross basketball, I know we can win this,” DeShields said.