Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Norcross' E. Victor Nickerson (5) goes past Centennial's Alex Buckley (23) on Wednesday.
NORCROSS — The Norcross senior boys played their final home basketball game Wednesday night and they did what they’ve done a lot of in the House of Blue — win big.
Flexing their size advantage from the start, the Blue Devils rolled past Centennial 77-51 in the Class AAAAA second round and earned a quarterfinals rematch with Wheeler on Saturday at West Georgia. Wheeler beat Norcross 73-68 on Dec. 4.
But this is a different Norcross team from the one in early December, which was struggling in a 5-8 start. After the second-round win, the Blue Devils are 21-9 and riding a 14-game winning streak.
The most recent win was a nice one because it was a fond farewell for the seniors in their final home game.
“That was real special,” Norcross senior E. Victor Nickerson said. “Pre-game warm-ups were real fun. We were loose. It was a good night.”
Said head coach Jesse McMillan: “It was kind of bittersweet for (the seniors). They were excited to play and they’ve won a lot of ball games in this place. But walking off, they knew it was their last game here.”
McMillan was happy with his team’s effort, despite an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers. The defensive intensity that has marked the recent winning streak was still there and his team stuck to its plan of working the ball inside.
Alonzo Nelson-Ododa had eight points and seven rebounds in the first quarter alone and Centennial’s starting post already had three fouls. The hosts kept pressuring the basket for high-percentage shots — they made 27 of 50 overall from the field.
They also owned a substantial 43-22 edge in rebounds.
“I thought we followed our game plan to a T,” McMillan said. “Our No. 1 goal was to get the ball inside, either straight to the post or with drives. And we did that pretty much the whole ball game.”
Norcross took control with a 17-0 run that started with a 10-0 spurt just before halftime to go up 35-22. It scored the first seven points of the second half to go up 20 before Centennial (16-12) could answer.
Josiah Moore had 21 points to lead the Blue Devils, while Nickerson had 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Nelson-Ododa had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Chris Bolden scored eight and Jason Croom had seven points off the bench.
“We started out a little slow, but coach got after us at halftime,” Nickerson said. “We came out with some fire after that.”
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