Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross forward Lorenzo Carter (22) comes down on Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Banks (12) after taking a shot during the second period of Friday's game played at Norcross.
NORCROSS -- Although he was recognized before the game with fellow senior Brandon Goodwin, most Norcross basketball fans in the overflow crowd had never really gotten even a glimpse of what Terrance O'Donahue could do.
Until Friday night, that is. Now the transfer from McCallie in Chattanooga has been formally introduced.
The College of Charleston signee had a breakout outing after a long recovery from knee surgery and the Norcross boys took sole possession of first place in Region 7-AAAAAA with a 64-50 victory over visiting Peachtree Ridge.
"It's been a long process getting him healthy, but people finally got to see the skill set he has," Norcross coach Jesse McMillan said. "We just expect him to get better and better."
That is good news for the Blue Devils, who improved to 17-6 overall and 12-2 in the region, and bad news for future opponents as they chase a state championship.
O'Donahue, getting his first start, had 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shot, as Norcross never trailed against a team that had beaten them 51-50 back on Dec. 19.
That was still a month before the 6-foot-7 O'Donahue was cleared to see any action and 6-foot-5 Lorenzo Carter was just finished with helping the Blue Devils win a state football championship.
Peachtree Ridge (15-8, 11-3 region) had held at least a share of first place since that victory, but now Norcross is the team to beat in 7-AAAAAA after seven wins in a row and 12 in its past 14 games.
The turnaround had been mainly accomplished without much of a contribution from O'Donahue, who had surgery to remove floating cartilage from his knee in the fall. But that changed.
"This was the first game where I really felt I had any explosion at all," said O'Donahue, who slammed home a resounding dunk. "I'm still only about 80 percent, but my knee is feeling better.
"I'm thankful for the support of my teammates, my coach and the trainers. I've been working hard every day to rehab my knee. It has taken longer than I thought, but everything is paying off."
Goodwin had 14 of his 18 points in the second half and Andre Chatfield contributed 15 of his 16 before halftime as Norcross started hot and then turned up the defensive pressure against Peachtree Ridge.
The Lions made too many turnovers and too few free throws, going just 8-for-24 from the foul line.
Jordan Capps, who had scored 19 points in the victory over Norcross at home in December, was 4-for-12 from the line. The 6-foot-7 senior scored 10 points, as did 6-foot-8 junior Amir Warnock, who had a game-best 11 rebounds.
It was the second straight loss for the Lions, who fell 54-49 at North Gwinnett on Tuesday, after a six-game winning streak. Coach Keith Arrington was ill and missed the game with North, but was back on the bench at Norcross.
Goodwin had four assists to go with his game-high point total and Carter contributed nine points, six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Freshman point guard Aaron Augustin had four assists for Peachtree Ridge.
Chatfield scored 15 points -- 12 in the first quarter -- as Norcross twice led by 10 points before going into halftime up 31-22. He hit three treys, converted a traditional 3-point play and hit three free throws after being fouled on a shot from behind the arc.
With Chatfield getting off to his hot start, Norcross led 18-8 with 2:48 left in the first quarter before Peachtree Ridge pulled within 19-14 at the end of the period. But the Blue Devils increased a 21-17 lead to 29-19 late in the second quarter.
Goodwin scored the last eight points for Norcross in the third quarter as it increased a 35-30 lead to 45-33.
A three-point play by the 6-foot guard midway in the fourth quarter gave Norcross its biggest lead at 60-37.
"We're getting very close to defining the roles that we need," McMillan said. "Chatfield is playing well and gives us that outside threat. Lorenzo is getting his basketball legs. Brandon is running the floor. We have guys learning what it takes to win high-level games."
But a regular-season title and a No. 1 seed for the region tournament is still not secure. The Blue Devils play at rival Duluth on Tuesday and at tough Collins Hill on Friday.
"Duluth is trying to get its first winning season in a long while and Devin Mitchell of Collins Hill can beat any team by himself," McMillan said. "We don't have anything to celebrate yet."
Norcross girls 62, Peachtree Ridge 41
North Carolina recruit Diamond DeShields, who has scored more than 2,000 points in her All-American career, marked senior night with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as the Norcross girls improved to 13-1 in Region 7-AAAAAA and 19-4 overall with a 62-41 victory over Peachtree Ridge.
Georgetown signee Shayla Cooper, who was honored with DeShields for amassing more than 1,300 career points, scored 13 points and had five rebounds for the Blue Devils. Junior point guard Bri Williams contributed seven points and six assists.
Mahre Bowman led Peachtree Ridge (8-14, 3-11 region) with 14 points and seven rebounds. Lorrie Cruse added 11 points and six rebounds, and Justina Young scored eight points.
Norcross led 12-8 after the first quarter and 25-16 at halftime before increasing its advantage to 46-29 going into the final quarter. Peachtree Ridge closed to 49-39 midway in the fourth quarter, but Norcross then pulled away.