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Norcross ice-cold in tournament loss

SNELLVILLE -- Norcross is off to a slow start against a rugged schedule, just like a year ago. The Blue Devils can only hope that the ending to the season is similar as well.

The defending Class AAAAA boys state champions couldn't uphold Georgia bragging rights, going 0-2 in the Big Apple vs. Big Peach Battle at Shiloh.

Poor rebounding cost Norcross on Friday in a 74-72 overtime loss to South Shore of Brooklyn. On Saturday night, it was frigid shooting that resulted in a 50-36 defeat to Long Island Lutheran.

The Blue Devils shot just 22 percent from the floor and were 8-for-22 from the free throw line against New York's defending Tournament of Champions winner.

Norcross played a loaded opening schedule a year ago as well and took time to jell, falling to 5-8 at one point.

But the Blue Devils turned things around to win their final 17 games and claimed the state title with an upset of Milton.

Senior point guard Derrick Herbert is the only full-time starter from a year ago returning and Norcross must again mesh its talent while finding a new identity.

The Blue Devils led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter against Long Island Lutheran. But after that every offensive trip down the court was a struggle.

Norcross scored just five points in the second quarter while falling behind 27-18 at halftime and was down by 12 in the third quarter before seemingly gaining back a little offensive momentum.

With Myles Autry making a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the Blue Devils closed to 34-27 going into the fourth quarter. That was as close as Norcross would get, though.

Victor Zambor, a hot-shooting junior guard, scored 10 points for Long Island Lutheran in the final quarter as the Crusaders pulled away. Zambor, who hit five 3-pointers, finished with 20 points.

Herbert scored 11 points to lead Norcross, but was 2-for-7 at the foul line in the second half. Junior guard Brandon Goodwin, who had 25 points in the opening overtime loss to South Shore, scored 10 and sophomore Myles Autry had eight points off the bench.

Harold Givens, a 6-foot-7 junior transfer, was strong on the board for the Blue Devils with 12 rebounds, but Norcross got little point production from its big men.

The Blue Devils have time to regroup. They don't play again until facing Harrison in the Nike Explosion at Wheeler next Saturday. Norcross opens Region 7-AAAAA action Dec. 6 at Collins Hill.