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Milton rips Tift County

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Photo by Brandon Brigman

DULUTH — Norcross will get another shot at defending state champion Milton in the Class AAAAA title game tonight in the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

The nationally ranked Eagles, who edged Norcross in a controversial quarterfinal a year ago, rolled to a 75-53 semifinal victory over Tift County on Thursday night as Jordan Loyd scored 27 points.

Milton (29-2) defeated Norcross 72-66 on Nov. 30 this season, but that isn’t the loss the Blue Devils will try to avenge. Milton won 52-51 in the quarterfinals a year ago when a foul was called after it appeared time had expired and the Eagles hit two free throws.

Norcross hasn’t forgotten. But beating Milton, which returned all five starters, is easier said than done.

Milton trailed 11-5 midway in the first quarter against Tift County (24-7) and was already in foul trouble. But Shaquille Johnson came off the bench to score eight points as went up 17-14 at the end of the quarter and then the Eagles broke the game wide open.

Milton outscored Tift County 26-8 in the second quarter and led 43-22 at halftime despite having four players with three fouls. Loyd, about the only starter not in early foul trouble, scored 11 points in the quarter, including a banked in 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Loyd, who has signed with Furman, had 15 points at intermission and added eight more in the third quarter as Milton went up 61-34.

Johnson, a junior, added 21 points — 17 coming in the first three quarters — and also had seven rebounds.

Tadric Jackson, a sophomore, and senior Breon Dixon led Tift County with 15 points each.