PREP HOOPS NOTES: DeShields, North girls make national statements

Diamond DeShields enhanced her resume for national high school girls player of the year, but Norcross fell short in its bid for a holiday tournament title.

North Gwinnett came home with the championship trophy from its out-of-state holiday trip and in the process earned consideration for a national ranking.

Lexie Brown was named MVP as North Gwinnett won the Naples Holiday Shootout, in Florida, defeating Hathaway Brown (Ohio) 57-50 in the title game Saturday night to complete a 4-0 tournament run.

Brown scored 18 points as the Bulldogs (11-0) overcame a 14-point deficit early in the second quarter. She also had four assists, four rebounds and four assists. Joshlyn Belcher scored 17 points for North and joined Brown her with four 3-pointers.

Brown, a Maryland signee, was joined on the all-tournament team by North’s Peyton Whitted and Baylee Rexing.

Norcross, meanwhile, fell to Portland Central Catholic 68-61 in the championship game of the Nike Interstate Shootout despite 26 points by DeShields on Sunday night in Lake Oswego, Ore.

Norcross (11-2) led by seven points in the third quarter before Central Catholic (8-3) surged back for the victory. Tennessee recruit Jordan Reynolds had 26 points for Central Catholic and Kailee Johnson, who is headed to Stanford, added 18.

The big game in Oregon for DeShields and Norcross came in the tournament opener. The North Carolina recruit had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Blue Devils defeated defending Oregon state champion Springfield and star Mercedes Russell 45-42.

The 6-foot-6 Russell, who has signed with Tennessee, was considered by many to be the preseason favorite for player of the year. But she had just 15 points against Norcross.

Springfield came into the game ranked No. 17 nationally by USA Today, while Norcross was No. 20.

North Gwinnett is still waiting to crack the USA Today or ESPN rankings, but the Bulldogs may not be ignored much longer.

Meanwhile, North and Norcross are getting closer to their first meeting of the season.

The Region 7-AAAAAA rivals meet Jan. 15 at North Gwinnett.

Mitchell shines for Collins Hill

Devin Mitchell, who had scored 38 points in the tourney opener, tied the Collins Hill school record with 41 as the Eagles won the Big Red Shootout on Saturday with a 78-74 victory over host Gainesville.

Mitchell, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, had 27 points in the semifinals and was the obvious choice as tournament MVP.

The victory over Gainesville improved the Eagles’ record to 11-4 and they have a key Region 7-AAAAAA game at North Gwinnett (9-2) on Friday.

Four teams, including North and Collins Hill, have one loss in the region. The others are Norcross and Peachtree Ridge.

Norcross nearing full strength

At 8-5, the record may not be that overly impressive. But the Norcross boys have yet to have their full roster. With the exception of football casualty Myles Autry, they soon will.

Terrance O’Donahue, a 6-foot-7 forward who has signed with the College of Charleston, is recovered from knee surgery and he will help give Norcross a formidable front line as he joins junior football and basketball standout Lorenzo Carter.

The 6-foot-5 Carter made the all-tournament team along with senior guard Brandon Goodwin as the Blue Devils finished second to host Columbia after an overtime loss in the finals of the Converse Invitational on Saturday night.

Norcross knocked off two out-of-state powers — Meridian (Miss.) and Miami Norland (Fla.) — and then Greenforest Christian in the semifinals before falling 71-67 in OT to Columbia.

North boys go to 10-2

The North Gwinnett boys had a successful holiday with a good showing in the Upward Classic in North Carolina before Christmas and then a victory over North Florida Educational Institute in the Hoops in Overdrive at Centennial on Monday.

The Bulldogs (10-2) took a 40-20 halftime lead and held on for a 67-62 victory to finish 2012 as sophomore guard Tobias Howard scored 19 points.

North reached the championship game in the earlier Upward Classic before falling to New Jersey power St. Patrick’s 57-48 despite 20 points by Howard. The Bulldogs defeated Gaston Day (N.C.) 62-50 in the semifinals after 60-52 victory over Vance (N.C.) in the first round.