NORCROSS Jeremy Lamb went cold and his team unraveled in the fourth quarter when Peachtree Ridge snapped the Norcross boys' long regular-season region winning streak in December.
Neither thing happened Tuesday night. In fact, it was just the opposite.
With Lamb taking charge, No. 3-ranked Norcross blitzed visiting Peachtree Ridge in the final quarter and won the 7-AAAAA showdown 71-54 before a nearly full and rocking House of Blue.
"After what happened in that first game, we definitely wanted to get them this time," the Connecticut signee said. "We couldn't let it happen again."
"That first loss woke us up," added junior Josiah Moore.
"It gave us a challenge and really motivated us."
Peachtree Ridge again challenged Norcross to the max, but this time the Blue Devils responded.
"What happened to us in that first game happened to them this time," Norcross coach Jesse McMillan said.
Down by 10 points shortly after halftime, the Lions took a 46-43 lead on two free throws by Rasheed Fischer to start the fourth quarter after a three-point play by C.J. Blackwell to end the third.
Then came the Norcross counterpunch. Suddenly the slugfest was broken open as Peachtree Ridge began turning the ball over against the Blue Devils' press and the Norcross offense revved up.
Lamb, who scored eight of his 20 points in the final quarter, tied the game with a dunk and E. Victor Nickerson had a stuff soon afterward. Six straight points by Lamb completed the 17-4 run and Norcross kept pulling away at the foul line.
"We withstood a couple of their runs, but we couldn't do it a third time," Peachtree Ridge coach Keith Arrington said.
The victory was he 12th straight for Norcross, which improved to 10-1 in Region 7-AAAAA and 15-2 overall. Peachtree Ridge is 10-3 and 13-6.
The Blue Devils, who have another 7-AAAAA showdown at home against No. 9-ranked Mill Creek on Friday, hadn't lost a regular-season region game in more than five years before falling at Peachtree Ridge on Dec. 11. More shocking than the loss was the score. The Lions won 65-45 thanks to a 25-9 edge in the fourth quarter.
It was Norcross with a 28-10 edge in the final quarter this time as Moore shut down Peachtree Ridge's Blackwell and everyone got into the act offensively following Lamb's lead.
"We didn't really have an identity when we played them the first time. It was just the fourth game of the season," McMillan said. "We're a different team now and we showed that."
The Blue Devils had six players score at least eight points and beat Peachtree Ridge on the boards, with Nickerson getting nine rebounds, Lamb eight and Moore seven. Nickerson scored 13 points, Moore had 11 and Marty Johnson added 10 points plus five assists.
Blackwell, a 6-foot-5 junior, had 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Peachtree Ridge. Daryan Griffin also scored 15 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers, and Fischer had 11 points and six rebounds.
"Norcross is as good as advertised," Arrington said. "But we hope to see them again down the road."
McMillan expects just that to happen, likely in the Region 7-AAAAA tournament.
"This is a great rivalry," McMillan said. "Norcross and Peachtree Ridge have been having battles for seven or eight years, really since Peachtree Ridge's existence. There is a lot of emotion. It's always a good backyard battle."
Norcross girls 82, Peachtree Ridge 55
Freshman forward Diamond DeShields scored 29 points, 19 in the first half, and added had eight rebounds and six assists as No. 3-ranked Norcross improved to 11-0 in Region 7-AAAAA and 16-2 overall with an 82-55 victory over Peachtree Ridge.
Senior guard Briana Jordan had 18 points, 15 in the first half, as well as 10 assists, eight rebounds, and six steals for the Blue Devils. Freshman forward Kaela Davis added 13 points and senior guard Judean Hanks scored nine on a trio of third-quarter 3-pointers.
Peachtree Ridge, 11-10 overall and 7-6 in the region, fell behind 8-0 in the first minute, but briefly took the lead in the second quarter on the hot 3-point shooting of Gabby Cole. The sophomore guard hit five 3-pointers in the first half and six for the game, finishing with 20 points. Brittany Jack added 14 points for the Lions.
Norcross will host No. 5-ranked Mill Creek in a Region 7-AAAAA showdown on Friday. The only two losses for Norcross came in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Arizona before Christmas, with the Blue Devils going 2-2 against some of the best teams in the nation.