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Norcross dominates Duluth

NORCROSS -- Not dominant like they were a few years ago while winning three consecutive Class AAAAA championships, the Norcross boys remain a work in progress this season.

"We're still developing an identity," second-year Blue Devils coach Jesse McMillan said.

That identity, though, is beginning to come into focus.

Norcross won two games in Kentucky before Christmas and two more a week later in Texas, showing that the Blue Devils -- ranked No. 5 in AAAAA -- are a team that can still make a lot of noise in the state tournament this season.

"I'm starting to see some things I like," McMillan said. "Especially with our intensity on defense. That's the key for us."

The Blue Devils dominated visiting Duluth after a tentative start Wednesday night, returning to Region 7-AAAAA play with a 77-44 victory over the Wildcats.

Jeremy Lamb supplied the offense, scoring 15 of his 20 points in the third quarter as Norcross blew the game wide open. The Blue Devils (9-2 overall and 5-1 in the region) led 19-12 at the end of the first quarter, but outscored Duluth 50-24 in the next two periods before both teams cleared the bench in the fourth.

Lamb came into the game averaging 18.5 points, and he showed why he was recruited by Connecticut with an impressive performance that included a trio of 3-pointers.

"I think the trips definitely helped us," Lamb said. "We got to spend a lot of time together and build some chemistry. Plus, we played some really good teams."

Norcross, which lost to No. 7-ranked Peachtree Ridge and No. 1-rated Milton on consecutive days in mid-December, went 2-0 at the John Lucas Invitational in Houston after winning its two games previously in Kentucky.

"Jeremy played very well in Houston," McMillan said. "He's still adjusting to being our focal point on offense and the focus of other teams on defense. He's not used to that."

Marty Johnson and Chris Bolden each scored 10 points for the Blue Devils, while Avante Hall had 16 for Duluth. The Wildcats are 6-8 overall and 2-5 in Region 7-AAAAA.

Norcross played without 6-foot-7 Adrian Hubbard, the Blue Devils' main returning inside presence from last season. The Alabama football recruit left the team to play in the Under Armour All-American game last week, where he was one of the defensive standouts.

"I don't know if we'll get him back or not," McMillan said. "He's having an issue with his shoulder, so we'll have to see. Whether he comes back or doesn't, the thing with us has to be our intensity on defense. That's what we have to have to win."