Norcross girls too much for Duluth

NORCROSS -- The Norcross girls hadn't played since the Nike Tournament of Champions two weeks ago and it looked like it for most of the first quarter.

Then the Blue Devils -- ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA behind defending state champion Redan and Parkview -- showed off their abundance of talent against visiting Duluth.

Down 10-4 early, Norcross took the lead on a 3-point play by Diamond DeShields off a behind-the-back pass from fellow freshman Kaela Davis on a fast break and the Blue Devils were off and running.

Norcross put its 3-point shooting as well as athleticism on display and defeated Duluth 61-38 on Wednesday night to remain unbeaten against Georgia teams.

"I thought we'd be a little rusty at first," Blue Devils coach Angie Hembree said. "I was surprised how well we shot once we got going."

Norcross was 7-for-14 from behind the 3-point arc and shot better than 50 percent overall, hitting 22 of 42 shots. When the Blue Devils shoot like that, they would appear almost unbeatable.

"Actually, the time off to rest up was good," Hembree said. "Now we'll get into the grind of region play and hopefully we'll peak at the right time."

Norcross is 6-0 in Region 7-AAAAA and 11-2 overall, the losses coming in Arizona before Christmas as the Blue Devils split four games in the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions against some of the best teams in the nation. One of the defeats was to No. 1-ranked St. Mary's of California.

"Playing teams like that will just make us better," Hembree said.

Davis had 19 points, five rebounds and four assists against Duluth, while DeShields had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Not bad for a couple of ninth-graders.

The highlight as far as the crowd was concern came in the fourth quarter with the game already decided. Davis passed off the backboard on a fastbreak to DeShields, who scored and completed a second 3-point play after being fouled.

But the Blue Devils are much more than the talented freshmen. Senior guards Briana Jordan and Judean Hanks each hit a trio of shots from behind the 3-point arc, junior Alex DeMercy had five assists and senior Mary Ann Sims grabbed seven rebounds.

Domonique Miller had eight points and six rebounds for Duluth, which made the state tournament the past three seasons. The Wildcats are 7-7 overall and 3-4 in 7-AAAAA this season.