Blue Devils' duo too much for Duluth

NORCROSS -- Diamond DeShields is a leading contender for this season's national high school player of the year and was honored Friday night for helping Team USA to gold medal at the World Championships this summer.

But Norcross is hardly a one-girl team. Anywhere else, Shayla Cooper would be the focal point in her own right.

Cooper backed DeShields' 26 points with 23 of her own and the Blue Devils pulled away in the second half for a 72-47 victory over visiting Duluth that made them 6-0 in Region 7-AAAAAA and 12-2 overall.

"Shayla may get overshadowed by the press, but not by us," Norcross coach Angie Hembree said. "We know how important she is. There is no doubt in my mind. We know how talented she is and what she had do. She can be unstoppable when she wants to be."

Cooper had eight points in the second quarter and five more in the third as Norcross took control after trailing by eight points in the first quarter. The 6-foot-2 Georgetown signee also had five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

"That's the most complete I've seen Shayla play this season," Hembree said. "She completly dominated inside. She hit a 3-pointer. She did a great job."

DeShields, of course, stood out as well with her all-around game. The prized 6-foot-2 North Carolina recruit had five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Up just 34-30 at halftime, the Blue Devils turned up the heat defensively and forced Duluth (9-6, 4-3) into 10 turnovers in the third quarter while outscoring the Wildcats 21-11.

The fourth quarter didn't get better for the Wildcats, who ended up with 16 turnovers. It just got worse.

Katie Powell, a 6-foot-3 junior, had a big game for Duluth with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. But the Wildcats' ball-handling suffered with senior point guard Joi Jones sitting out the game.

Jazmyn Johnson had 10 points for Duluth and Aliyah McGriff scored eight in the Wildcats' third straight loss.

Kolby Meeks scored eight points for Norcross and Bri Williams backed DeShields and Cooper with her own impressive all-around game. The junior point guard had seven points, six assists, six steals and five rebounds.

Duluth, though, gave Norcross -- coming off a second-place finish at the Nike Interstate Shootout in Oregon -- all it could handle in a first half where the teams alternated runs.

The Wildcats led 8-2 before Norcross scored seven straight points to go ahead. Duluth then ran off nine in a row to lead 17-9 late in the first quarter.

With Cooper taking over, Norcross led 24-19 in the second quarter after a 13-0 run. Duluth battled back to go up 30-26, but the streaks continued as the Blue Devils scored eight straight to lead 34-30 at halftime.

Cooper had 14 points at halftime and DeShields 10. Powell scored 11 before intermission for Duluth.

DeShields scored 16 points in the second half -- eight in each of the third and four quarters -- as Norcross pulled away.

Norcross boys 62, Duluth 52

Brandon Goodwin had 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds as the Norcross boys defeated Duluth 62-52 to improve their record to 5-1 in Region 7-AAAAAA and 9-5 overall.

Two Norcross players were assessed technical fouls for hanging on the rim during warm-ups and Shamus Goss hit four free throws for Duluth to start the game. But that is about all that went wrong for the Blue Devils.

Norcross recovered to lead 20-12 after the first quarter and 31-20 at halftime. It was 43-34 going into the fourth quarter.

Ricky Madison had 11 points for the Blue Devils. Lorenzo Carter contributed nine points and Andre Chatfield scored eight to go along with five rebounds and four assists.

Ify Imachukwu led Duluth (10-6, 2-5) with 17 points. Sabion Griffin-Bey scored 12, hitting three of the Wildcats' four 3-pointers. Goodwin had a trio of treys for Norcross.

Terrance O'Donohue, rounding into shape after knee surgery, warmed up for Norcross and was one of the players drawing a technical foul. The 6-foot-7 College of Charleston signee may make his Norcross debut next week, when the Blue Devils host Collins Hill and Mill Creek in key Region 7-AAAAAA games.