Photo: David McGregor Norcross guard Brandon Goodwin (11) goes up for two during the fourth quarter of the Blue Devils' loss to Miller Grove on Saturday afternoon at GAC.
NORCROSS -- Coming into the game missing two players to injury and three in the football state championship game, Norcross managed to hold Miller Grove close before falling 64-62 at GAC's Long Forum.
Norcross coach Jesse McMillan thought his team could've played a lot better and showed more drive on the court.
"We've got a long way to go," McMillan said. "We were never in control of the ball game. I felt like our guys were intimidated a little bit and reacted instead of dictating. I've got a really young group, man, as evidenced in the locker room postgame. I've got guys that are more excited about a postgame Chick-fil-A than they are losing a ball game. They're a very young, immature team, and we've got a long way to go."
After their deficit fell into double digits in the third quarter, thanks in large part to Earl Bryant's 12 points in the period, the Blue Devils (6-3, 4-0 Region 7-AAAAAA) started to make a run. Thomas Cameron (eight points) tipped in a bucket as the buzzer ended the third to cut the lead to 54-45.
After slowly chipping away at the lead, a couple of steals and two quick layups by Brandon Goodwin (28 points) with less than three minutes to go brought the Blue Devils to within a score at 58-55.
Another steal allowed Ricky Madison to draw a foul inside a minute to play. He hit 1 of 2 free throws to close the gap to 58-56, but Norcross would get no closer.
Bryant, Alterique Gilbert (14 points) and Keith Pinckney (11 points) each hit a pair of key free throws to help solidify the lead for the Wolverines (9-1, 5-0 6B-AAAAA). Andre Chatfield hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it wasn't enough to make a full comeback.
Along with a number of missed free throws, one play that may haunt Norcross came early in the third quarter.
Chatfield made a steal near midcourt and had an open run toward the basket, but his one-handed dunk attempt missed.
McMillan did see a little bit of hope when his team didn't quit after falling behind by double digits in the second half.
"I wish we would've had a sense of urgency from the beginning of the game," he said. "That's one of the things we try to instill with them. Trying to play from behind versus a good team is very tough. Give them credit, they did fight back and give themselves an opportunity to win."
Columbia 63, Peachtree Ridge 44
NORCROSS -- Tahj Shamsid-Deen was dominant Saturday in Columbia's 63-44 win over Peachtree Ridge.
The senior point guard scored 13 of the Eagles' 18 first-quarter points, which led them to an 18-10 advantage after eight minutes.
Despite trailing by 10 at halftime, the Lions (7-4, 4-1 Region 7-AAAAAA) nearly caught up to the Eagles in the third. Aaron Augustin (11 points) sent an alley-oop pass to Jordan Capps, who dunked the ball to cut the deficit to two and was fouled on the play. Capps, who led the Lions with 13, missed the free throw, and Peachtree Ridge would get no closer in the game.
Sydney Scurlark scored eight points, and Amir Warnock added nine points off the bench.
Glenn Hills 50, Central 43
NORCROSS -- Glenn Hills used an early 9-0 run to turn a 10-6 deficit into a 15-10 lead en route to a 50-43 win over Central Gwinnett on Saturday.
Eman Westmoreland scored 12 points on four 3-pointers, one of which cut the Spartans' lead to one midway through the fourth quarter. After Glenn Hills built its lead back up, Michael Vos-Otin (two points) hit a shot with 1:20 remaining that would cut the margin back to two points. But a score by Santo Nina (nine points) put the Spartans back up two possessions and they would eventually win by seven.
Brian Egejuru and Shaun Jones both scored 10 points for Central. Naquan Turner led Glenn Hills with 11 points.