Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross guard Brandon Goodwin (11) juggles the ball while driving to the basket against Mill Creek guards TJ Christopher (21) and Trevon Shaw (14) during high school basketball action at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton on Tuesday. Norcross defeated Mill Creek 60-53.
HOSCHTON -- After opening its season with one win and one loss last week in the City of Rivers Shootout in Jacksonville, Fla., Norcross' boys returned to Georgia with a 60-53 win over Mill Creek on Tuesday night.
Norcross came into the contest far from full strength as the Blue Devils (2-1) are currently without the services of five players on its roster.
That lack of manpower has resulted in a need for more production from its bench, and Norcross received that on Tuesday as three players came off the pine to contribute 26 points.
"Jordyn Thomas was in our program last year and he understands what it's about," Norcross head coach Jesse McMillan said. "He didn't get a lot time last year but he knows what's important and we gave him the game ball tonight."
Thomas, a 5-10 junior guard, didn't get the start but made the most of his time off the bench by scoring 10 points.
Also coming in from reserve with eight points each were Khalen Pinkett and Thomas Cameron. Cameron also finished with six rebounds.
"One of our goals this game was to pressure the ball and rebound," McMillan said. "This is one of the tougher places to play and come in and get a win. We had a few early season jitters but to bring in a young and inexperienced team and get a win, I'm pretty pleased."
The game started off slow and sluggish with both teams mounting up the fouls from the get go as Norcross (2-1) sludged out to a 12-9 lead by the end of the first.
Thomas was a big part in keeping Norcross with five points, while Mill Creek (3-1) had a tough time getting on track offensively with four turnovers in the quarter.
The pace picked up in the second quarter as Mill Creek kept up with the Blue Devils, trailing by just four points at 29-25 by the half,
Norcross looked like it was going to go into the break with a big lead in the second, going up by 10 at 28-18 after Andre Chatfield (10 points) hit a pair of free throws, but the Hawks closed out the second with a 7-1 run.
Elijah Bryant, who finished with nine points for Mill Creek, was a part of that spurt with a 3-pointer, while Trevon Shaw (top scorer with 16 points) and Brandon Smith (eight points) each helped with a basket.
Norcross opened the third period with its best offensive stretch of the night, opening the period with a 10-0 run, while its defense also played its best stretch by holding the Hawks scoreless for nearly a full five minutes.
By the time the first Mill Creek bucket of the second half dropped in (a 3-pointer from Bryant), the Blue Devils had built a 39-25 lead that it wouldn't relinquish.
"Norcross took it to us tonight," Mill Creek head coach Chad Rogers said. "They made it difficult for us to get into anything and got all the loose balls and all the offensive rebounds. They also forced us into a lot of turnovers."
Despite falling into a big hole, the Hawks made one last charge in the fourth quarter, getting as close as five points at 56-51 with 1:50 left.
They even had a chance to trim it even more, but another costly turnover in the final minute prevented Mill Creek from getting any closer.
Brandon Goodwin led Norcross with 11 points and five rebounds. T.J. Christopher finshed with 11 points and five boards for Mill Creek, while Brandon Smith scored 12.
McMillan expects his squad will be at 100 percent by next semester. Three players in Myles Autry, Lorenzo Carter and Chris Herndon are still on the football roster and should be back no later than mid-December.
Transfer and College of Charleston commit Terrance O'Donohue is expected back in three weeks after undergoing a minor knee operation, and seven-foot post player Rasheed Stanley will be back after the semester.
Norcross 70, Mill Creek 54
Norcross head coach Angie Hembree moved one step closer to career win 400 as a head coach as her Blue Devils topped Mill Creek 70-54.
Diamond DeShields led all players with 33 points with five steals, four assists and three rebounds. Shayla Cooper also had a strong game with 20 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
Mill Creek was led by 12 points and seven rebounds from Meredith Schulte, while Madison Phillips finished with 11 points. Kathleen Haxton also scored 10.
The victory was career win No. 399 for Hembree.