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Norcross girls power past North in 4th quarter of region final

Norcross' Diamond DeShields #22 shoots and scores over Ariel Johnson #10 and Lexie Brown #4 of North Gwinnett.

Norcross' Diamond DeShields #22 shoots and scores over Ariel Johnson #10 and Lexie Brown #4 of North Gwinnett.

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Norcross' Shayla Cooper #32 drives against North Gwinnett's Jordan Hyatt #30.

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North Gwinnett's Peyton Whitted #25 shoots and scores during Saturday's game.

NORCROSS -- In a game that featured numerous swings in momentum, it was Norcross which rode the last wave. The Blue Devils rolled to a 53-38 win over North Gwinnett in the Region 7-AAAAA girls' basketball tournament championship at Meadowcreek High School.

With the win, Norcross (23-5) takes home its second straight region title and will host Archer, the No. 4 seed out of 8-AAAAA, in the first round of the state tournament.

North (23-3), which was seeking its first region crown since 1962, will be a No. 2 seed out of 7-AAAAA and host No. 3 seed South Gwinnett.

"It was a game that featured two great teams playing each and it's going to go back and forth," said Norcross head coach Angie Hembree. "It came down to the fourth quarter and I think our kids really played great defense. It just came down to defense and rebounding. We held a great team to just two points in the fourth quarter and that says a lot."

Both teams struggled early to score as Norcross took an 8-6 lead after the first quarter.

But Norcross found another gear in the second quarter as the Blue Devils roared to a 26-12 advantage heading to halftime.

Diamond DeShields and Tori Carter did all the damage as the duo combined for all 18 points in the quarter.

DeShields connected for 10 of her 24 points, including a pair of three-pointers, while Carter accounted for all her scoring in the game with the remaining eight Norcross points.

Meanwhile, North was still having a difficult time finding the basket. The Bulldogs managed just six points in the second quarter to match their first-quarter output.

It didn't help that star guard Lexie Brown was saddled with her third foul with 1:09 to go in the first half.

But Brown came out on fire in the third quarter to ignite the North rally as the Bulldogs outscored Norcross 24-10 to tie the game at 36-36 heading to the fourth quarter.

Brown poured in 19 of North's 24 points, including two three-pointers and numerous dribble-drives to the basket where she picked up fouls and hit 5 of 5 free throws.

But just as North had done in the first and second quarters, the offense disappeared as the Norcross defense clamped down and the Blue Devils outscored the Bulldogs 17-2 in the final frame.

Norcross went on a 12-0 run to open the fourth quarter and eventually cruised home with the 15-point victory.

"It was a tough and emotional game," said a drained North coach Bryan Sellers. "We played so hard and fought our way back in it only to have it end like it did. Norcross really put the defensive pressure on us and we just couldn't respond in that fourth quarter."

Brown finished with a game-high 25 points and Peyton Whitted added nine for North.

MILL CREEK 58, DULUTH 33

In the third-place game of the Region 7-AAAAA girls' tournament at Meadowcreek, Mill Creek jumped on Duluth early and took home a 58-33.

Mill Creek (19-9) raced out to a 22-6 lead after the first quarter and upped that advantage to 37-18 at the half.

From there, Mill Creek was never challenged as the Hawks hit 11 three-pointers in the game en route to the 25-point win.

Jasmine Carter had 14 points and Tamarr Williams added 13 for the Hawks, who will be the No. 3 seed out of 7-AAAAA and will play at Brookwood, the No. 2 seed from 8-AAAAA.

Nadiya Miller chipped in nine points -- all on three-pointers -- for Mill Creek.

Katie Powell, who was injured in the second half and did not return, and Joi Jones had nine points each for Duluth (17-11).