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DeMercy does dirty work in Norcross' Final Four win

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

DULUTH -- Alex DeMercy's linescore fails to properly pay the Norcross junior her earned respect.

She scored three points on 1 of 5 shooting, didn't attempt a free throw, had five rebounds and seven assists for Norcross against Westlake.

Those don't sniff the 19 points and 12 rebounds turned in by Diamond DeShields or the 14 points quietly compiled by Briana Jordan. They don't even stack up to Kaela Davis' nine points and 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute.

But for all but about a minute Thursday, DeMercy bumped, elbowed and fought against the tallest and biggest player Westlake ran onto the court.

"I don't have to score a lot to be successful," DeMercy said.

The Blue Devils' 51-44 win proves it. Norcross now moves on the face defending state champion Redan today at 7 p.m. for the Class AAAAA state title. Redan beat Milton 55-46 to earn its return trip to the title game.

There is no day off for the Devils or DeMercy, who will again take on her role as primary post defender for Norcross.

"She does the dirty work when it comes to rebounding and defending the bigger post," Norcross head coach Angie Hembree said of DeMercy.

Redan lacks the 6-foot-4 or 6-3 post players of Westlake, but the 5-10 DeMercy and the Blue Devils will face a stable of five 6-footers.

But it's nothing tougher than the two big physical teams the Blue Devils downed to get to their first state final.

"I have never been in this position," DeMercy said. "This is the most excited I have been in my life."

And she helped get the Blue Devils there.

From the opening minute when Westlake's Ashley Johnson knocked her down to her final rebound that set up the game-clinching free throws, DeMercy quietly set a foundation for her teammates to build on.

DeShields did most of the building. The freshmen's 19 points were a game high.

Norcross built a lead as big at 13, but Westlake found its offense from guard Sharnea Boykin, who hit four 3s in the game.

"They did a good job of shooting behind the screens," Hembree said of Westlake's five 3s.

Boykin's final 3-pointer came with 1:08 left in the game and cut the Blue Devils' lead to 46-44.

That's when Davis showed up. The freshmen sank a pair of free throws after an intentional Westlake foul and hit 1 of 2 seconds later as Norcross scored the game's final five points. She also blocked a 3-pointer b y Boykin that would have tied the game.

"(Davis) has been in big games before," Hembree said. "Growing up she has been a go-to player. But in this arena with that many people I think anyone with a pulse would be nervous. She is up to it."

Many of the Norcross players stuck into Thursday evening watching the other Class AAAAA semifinals and unofficially scouting their final opponent. After all it's a tough environment to leave

"I am always excited to be here," Hembree said. "I am excited for the players. It's a great atmosphere. I am excited for them."

"Our team is a family," DeMercy said. "They are the best I could ask for."