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Norcross holds on to beat Columbia

NORCROSS -- Two-time defending Class AAAAA state champion Norcross didn't have any time to fret about its opening loss to McEachern, the team the Blue Devils had beaten in the title game last season.

Coach Angie Hembree's team had another stern test a night later. This time the Blue Devils passed, although it certainly wasn't easy.

Ahead by 14 points late in the third quarter, the Blue Devils had to hold on to defeat Columbia 62-57 on Thursday in the second day of the Lady Blue Tip-Off Classic.

"We scheduled these games to be tested and we certainly have been," Hembree. "These have been two really good teams we've played and we've got another one coming up."

After a break today, the Lady Blue Tip-Off continues Saturday with host Norcross playing defending Class AAAA state champion Fayette County in the final game. The Tigers were ranked No. 2 in their class by the GACA/Ga.PrepCounty.com preseason coaches poll, just like McEachern and Class AAA Columbia.

Miah Spencer hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left and Columbia had a chance to tie with another shot from behind the arc after Norcross couldn't get the ball inbounds. But Shayla Cooper blocked Spencer's shot, was fouled and hit two free throws with less than a second remaining.

Diamond DeShields had 19 points for Norcross before fouling out in the closing minute and Patrice Butler scored 17. Tori Carter added 13 points and Cooper had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. DeShields and Carter each had four assists.

No. 1-ranked Norcross led by 10 points in second quarter and was up 46-32 late in the third before Columbia scored 10 straight points to close within four early in the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils pushed the lead back to eight points, but Columbia fought back again to give turnover-plagued Norcross the late scare.

Norcross played without Jasmine Kemp, who suffered concussion-like symptoms after being hurt against McEachern on Wednesday. Colby Meeks helped fill in, grabbing five rebounds.

Mill Creek 82, Wheeler 63

Nadiya Miller was 5-for-6 from behind the 3-point arc and scored 25 points as Mill Creek, ranked No. 4 in the Class AAAAA preseason coaches poll, defeated Wheeler 82-63 for its second straight decisive victory.

The Hawks, who defeated Milton in their opener, won easily despite losing sophomore standout Jasmine Carter early in the third quarter when she was hit in the right eye by a teammate's elbow.

"She has blurred vision, but I think they are more worried about a possible concussion," Mill Creek coach Ashley Phillips said.

Carter, who averaged a team-high 14.5 points as the Hawks made the AAAAA Final Four last season, was taken to the hospital to be examined. She had nine points and three assists before being hurt.

Miller and Kathleen Haxton combined for 23 of Mill Creek's 30 points in the second quarter as the Hawks turned a 16-15 first-quarter deficit into a 45-32 halftime lead. Miller hit a pair of 3-pointers in the quarter en route to 12 points and Haxton scored 11 with one 3-ponter.

Miller had three assists and six rebounds Tamarr Williams led Mill Creek with seven rebounds.

GAC 48, Milton 33

Greater Atlanta Christian, ranked No. 2 in Class AA, improved to 2-0 with its second convincing victory over a Class AAAAA team, beating Milton 48-33.

Brianna Cumings had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Spartans. CiCi Buford added 10 points and seven rebounds, while freshman Cossette Maher scored 10 points and Sydni Means had nine points to go with four assists.

GAC led 11-10 after the first quarter and 25-19 at halftime. Cummings had seven points at break, Buford six and Means five.

The second half was all GAC's. The Spartans held Milton (0-2) to four points in the third quarter while going up 37-23. Maher had five points in the quarter and Means four.

GAC will play Mill Creek on Saturday after Milton finishes up against Wheeler. The tripleheader begins at 4 p.m.