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Blue Devils pull away late to beat Eagles

NORCROSS -- More work on free throws is sure to be ahead for the Norcross boys at practice today, but at least they won't have to put in the extra time after a loss.

The Blue Devils turned from ice cold to at least warm at the foul line in the fourth quarter and pulled away from visiting Collins Hill for a key Region 7-AAAAAA victory Tuesday night.

After starting the game 3 of 12, Norcross hit 10 of 14 when the game was on the line for the 59-52 victory.

The Blue Devils are tied for first place in the region at 6-1 and 10-5 overall, but their woes at the foul line need to be corrected and corrected soon with a showdown at North Gwinnett looming next Tuesday after a home game with Mill Creek on Friday.

"It's been an issue and it's still an issue," coach Jesse McMillan said. "It's something we're working on and focusing on. Right now, it's a little bit in the guys' heads.

"But I'd rather learn to make free throws when it counts now than have the problem crop up in the playoffs when it can really be costly. We've been working and working on it, but it is up to the guys to make the shots."

Brandon Goodwin did down the stretch, going 8-for-10 after two earlier misses and finishing with 16 points -- one fewer than teammate Andre Chatfield.

Chatfield had eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and it was his 3-pointer with less than five minutes to play that put Norcross ahead for good at 46-44.

Collins Hill (11-6, 5-3 in 7-AAAAAA) had led 42-40 going into the fourth quarter. But Norcross went on a 15-3 run and was up 55-45 after Goodwin made two free throws with 56.9 seconds left.

Football standout Lorenzo Carter had 13 points and supplied plenty of muscle inside for Norcross. It was the Blue Devils' defensive pressure, though, that did in Collins Hill.

The Eagles committed 21 turnovers and were the victims' of too little ball movement when the game was on the line.

Devin Mitchell, Collins Hill's leading scorer, was held to just two points in the second half and 11 for the game. Darius Joell had a game-high 18 points for the Eagles and 6-foot-8 Johncarlos Reyes contributed 10 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots.

Down 7-2 after Collins Hill hit its first three shots, Norcross closed the first quarter on a 14-0 run to go up 19-10. But the Eagles scored the first eight points of the second quarter and the teams went into intermission tied at 29.

Joell had seven of his 10 first-half points in the second quarter and Mitchell six of his nine. Goodwin had 10 points at the break for Norcross and Chatfield, who scored the Blue Devils' first seven of the game, had nine.

Carter had two baskets to start the second half, but Collins Hill then went on a 9-3 run to go back up 38-36 and Amadi Stephens' two free throws with 14.8 seconds left in the third quarter kept the Eagles ahead going into the last eight minutes.

Collins Hill shot a better percentage at the foul line than Norcross, but had fewer opportunities. The Eagles were 11 of 16.

With football and injuries, Norcross is just starting to get its full team together.

College of Charleston signee Terrance O'Donahue, coming off knee surgery, made his Norcross debut but didn't score while playing just a few minutes.

"It's been a process," McMillan said. "We're hoping to click in the next week or so."

To really do that, though, the extra work at the foul line may have to pay off.

Norcross girls 57, Collins Hill 27

With Diamond DeShields sitting out because of the flu, Shayla Cooper took the lead role and the Norcross girls rolled to a 57-27 victory over visiting Collins Hill.

Cooper, who has signed with Georgetown, had 18 points, nine steals, five assists and four rebounds as Norcross improved to 13-3 overall and 7-0 in Region 7-AAAAAA.

Sierra Butler chipped in 12 points and Kolby Meeks scored 10 for the Blue Devils. Bri Williams contributed 10 assists.

Cooper had nine first-quarter points as Norcross took a 12-4 lead and had five more in the second quarter when the Blue Devils expanded the advantage 27-11 at intermission. It was 46-19 going into the fourth quarter.

Madison McAfee scored nine points to leading Collins Hill (5-11, 1-7).

In addition to being without DeShields, Norcross lost Deja Smith to a sprained ankle.