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HOOPS NOTES: Norcross 0-2 going into showdown at Milton

The Norcross boys were ranked No. 20 nationally by USA Today going into the basketball season, but the Blue Devils will take an 0-2 record into tonight’s showdown at No. 1 Milton.

Breaking in three transfers, Norcross lost twice to Florida powers in the Iverify Invitational showcase at Waddell High School in Charlotte over the weekend. The Blue Devils were edged by Oldsmar 67-66 and then lost 74-60 to Arlington Country Day.

That’s not the kind of start that coach Jesse McMillan was hoping for and it certainly doesn’t get any easier with Milton and Wheeler up next. The Blue Devils face the Wildcats on Saturday in the Nike Explosion showcase at Wheeler.

Norcross, which won three straight Class AAAAA state titles from 2006-2008, always plays a difficult schedule. But this year the Blue Devils have taken it to the extreme in hopes of being as prepared as possible for the state tournament.

Norcross had won 24 straight games and was 27-2 before losing in controversial fashion to eventual state champion Milton in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals last season.

Now the Blue Devils get another shot at the Eagles. But Norcross is a retooled team after the loss of Jeremy Lamb, a Connecticut freshman, and two other starters. The key additions are point guard Derrick Herbert and big men Alonzo Nelson-Ododa and Rod Booker.

Chris Bolden, a junior guard who has committed to Miami, was the Blue Devils’ leading scorer in Charlotte, scoring 23 against Oldsmar and finishing with 33 points in the two games.

Milton has all of its starters back and that group is led by college signees Julian Royal (Georgia Tech), Shannon Scott (Ohio State), Dai-Jon Parker (Vanderbilt) and Jordan Loyd (Furman). Norcross has a trio of college signees — Josiah Moore (Nebraska), E.Victor Nickerson (Charlotte) and Nelson-Ododa (Richmond).

Milton is 2-0, having beaten Huffman of Alabama and McEachern handily. Milton, Norcross and Wheeler were the top three Class AAAAA teams in the ga.prepcountry.com coaches poll going into the season. Milton will play defending Class AAAA state champ Miller Grove in the Nike Explosion on Saturday prior to the Norcross-Wheeler game.

Buford girls get late start

The Norcross girls, ranked No. 9 nationally by USA Today, are off to a 3-0 start. But Buford, ranked No. 20, is yet to play.

The Wolves were scheduled to compete in an event at Mobile last Saturday, but it was cancelled. Coach Gene Durden said that he wasn’t notified until a few days in advance.

Buford, the two-time defending Class AA champ, now won’t play until Saturday at home against Maynard Jackson in a Region 6-AA game.

“We are itching to play,” Durden said.

The next game for defending Class AAAAA champ Norcross is Saturday in the Battle of the Southeast at St. Pius against Fayette County, ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA in the ga.prepcountry.com coaches poll. The No. 1 Blue Devils have already beaten McEachern and Milton, ranked second and third in Class AAAAA.

The feature game in the Battle of the Southeast has Wesleyan, which has won three straight state titles, against Hoover, Ala. Hoover is ranked No. 10 nationally by USA Today. Wesleyan, No. 1 in Class A, is 3-0.

Other than the Buford girls, the only Gwinnett team yet to play is the defending Class AA state champion Greater Atlanta Christian boys. The Spartans host Region 6-AA foe Lovett on Friday in their opener.

Games switched to Thursday

The football semifinals have caused two of the Class AAAAA schools involved to switch basketball games from Friday to Thursday.

The Region 8-AAAAA opener with Brookwood at Central Gwinnett was moved up a day, as was Grayson’s non-region game at home against Walnut Grove.

Collins Hill, the other Gwinnett school in the Class AAAAA football semifinals, didn’t have basketball games scheduled Friday.

Wesleyan, which is hosting Savannah Christian in the Class A football semifinals on Friday, has basketball games scheduled at Mill Creek that same night.