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GAC closes strong to beat Mill Creek

Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Sierra Lawrence (23) defends against Mill Creek's Meredith Schulte (22) during a girls basketball tournament game played at Norcross Saturday.
 Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Syndi Means (1) blocks a shoot attempt by Mill Creek's Meredith Schulte (22) during a girls basketball tournament game played at Norcross Saturday.
 Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Sierra Lawrence (23) keeps possession of the ball while Mill Creek's Alisia Fagin (25) and India Dillard (33), right, attempt to take the ball during the first half of a girls basketball tournament game played at Norcross Saturday. 

Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Sierra Lawrence (23) defends against Mill Creek's Meredith Schulte (22) during a girls basketball tournament game played at Norcross Saturday. Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Syndi Means (1) blocks a shoot attempt by Mill Creek's Meredith Schulte (22) during a girls basketball tournament game played at Norcross Saturday. Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Sierra Lawrence (23) keeps possession of the ball while Mill Creek's Alisia Fagin (25) and India Dillard (33), right, attempt to take the ball during the first half of a girls basketball tournament game played at Norcross Saturday. 

NORCROSS -- When the Greater Atlanta Christian girls fell behind by eight points to Mill Creek late in the third quarter Saturday, it looked like the deficit might be tough to overcome.

GAC had little depth to begin with and senior starter Celine Talley was lost early in the opening game Wednesday with a knee injury that will require surgery.

Don't count the Spartans out, though. With sophomores Brianna Cummings and Sydni Means taking charge, GAC scored 10 straight points to go ahead and defeated Mill Creek 57-50 in the Lady Blue Tip-Off.

Cummings had 24 points and 10 rebounds while Means contributed 14 points and five assists as GAC improved to 3-0.

Mill Creek (2-1) played without sophomore standout Jasmine Carter, who was hurt in Thursday's game. But it was still a gutty and impressive showing for GAC.

Mill Creek made the Class AAAAA semifinals last March and came into this season ranked No. 4 in the GACA/Ga.PrepCountry.com coaches poll. The Spartans, who were the Class AA runner-up last season, are ranked No. 2 in their classification.

"This was a big win for us," GAC coach Cal Boyd said. "We're really young, but we're starting to get a better feel for each other. I was happy with the way we finished the game."

After Mill Creek closed to 51-50 with just under two minutes to play, GAC went into its delay and was able to close out the victory at the foul line. Cummings and Means both went 2-for-2, giving the Spartans a comfortable lead with 12 seconds left. The Spartans were 13-for-18 at the line for the game.

Nadiya Miller led the Hawks with 17 points and India Dillard scored 12 before fouling out.

"Losing Celine was really tough," Boyd said. "We didn't have much experience to begin with."

GAC did get a boost, though, when senior softball standout Sierra Lawrence reconsidered her decision to not play this season.

"She isn't in basketball shape yet," Boyd said. "But she'll definitely help us, especially with Talley out."

Norcross 60, Fayette County 54

Shayla Cooper scored 22 points and Diamond DeShields added 19 as Norcross defeated Fayette County 60-54 to finish 2-1 against fellow state powers in its Lady Blue Tip-Off.

The two-time defending Class AAAAA champion and No. 1-ranked Blue Devils lost to second-ranked McEachern on opening night in the tournament, but bounced back against Columbia, No. 2 in AAA, and Fayette County, second ranked and the defending champ in AAAA. In the ESPNU national rankings, McEachern is No. 13 and Norcross is No. 32.

Tori Carter scored 11 points for Norcross, which led 24-22 at halftime before starting the third quarter with an 8-0 run. But the Tigers (1-1) pulled back to within 39-36 going into the fourth quarter.

Norcross built the lead back up to 12 points late in the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach. Fayette County hit two late 3-pointers for the final six-point margin.