Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross' Brandon Goodwin (11) drives to the basket against North Cobb's Jon Beausejour (3) and Lee Moore (2) during State AAAAAA high school boys basketball semifinals at the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta Saturday. Norcross defeated North Cobb 59-54.
ATLANTA -- In a fast-paced Class AAAAAA state boys semifinal game against North Cobb in which the tempo and emotion could have gotten the best of Norcross, Brandon Goodwin simply wouldn't allow either.
The 6-foot senior scored 10 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, including hitting 8 of 10 free throws in the final 1:36.
But no play was more clutch than his offensive rebound of a missed free throw and stickback with one second remaining that stole North Cobb's last chance to tie the game away and sealed the Blue Devils' 59-54 win before a charged crowd at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion on Saturday night.
Goodwin's play allowed Norcross (26-6) to hold off a furious rally by North Cobb in which the Warriors (26-5) nearly erased a nine-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, and move into next Saturday's title game against Hillgrove at the Macon Centreplex.
"It's like an adventure," Goodwin said of close games. "I haven't really played in a game like this. I just prepared myself (during the season) and me and my teammates, we came together."
The Blue Devils seemed in control after a Ricky Madison free throw gave them 42-33 lead with 7:23 remaining.
But Lee Moore tried to duplicate Goodwin's clutch performance by scoring 15 of his team-high 23 points and dishing out two assists in the final frame.
Nine of those points came during a 3:28 span of the fourth quarter in which the Warriors charged back to as close as 44-42 following Moore's spin move in the lane with 2:58 left.
"One thing we knew about this team, North Cobb, (is) they were down in games earlier this year, and they always came back and won," Norcross coach Jesse McMillan said. "We knew whether we were up two or 20, they were going to come back and make a game of it."
Still, it looked like Norcross had regained control after Goodwin fed Lorenzo Carter for a dunk, and then hit 3 of 4 free throws -- all on two separate 1-and-1 opportunities -- to stretch the lead back to 49-42 with 1:21 left.
Still, North Cobb refused to quit, either matching or surpassing Norcross' point total with each possession.
A three-point play by Moore, in which he purposely missed the second of two free throws before putting back his own miss, plus a 3-pointer by Jon Beausejour, fueled an 11-6 run that cut the Blue Devils' lead to just 55-53.
And when Moore made another move in the lane and drew a foul, the 6-2 senior went to the line with a chance to tie the game, but missed the second of the two free throws, leaving Norcross still up 55-54 with 11.1 seconds left.
Even after Terrance O'Donahue made a pair of free throws, and then blocked Beausejour's attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer, which Carter grabbed the rebound of, the win still wasn't secure.
Carter missed both of the ensuing free throws after being fouled with 3.6 seconds left, which looked like it would give North Cobb one last chance to tie the game.
But Goodwin, who also contributed eight rebounds and five assists on the game, had other ideas, sneaking in to grab the rebound and score the uncontested layup with a second left to finally ice the win.
"I knew we were up three and I didn't want them to go down and make a play," Goodwin said. "I knew my big man was hurting and I told him, 'If you miss this, I got you.' It came off, I grabbed it and scored."
Despite the missed free throws, Carter played a big factor in the Blue Devils' win with eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while O'Donohue, Andre Chatfield and Khalen Pinkett each chipped in seven points, with Pinkett adding six boards and four assists.
Beausejour was North Cobb's only other player in double figures with 12 points and also had 11 rebounds.
The two teams traded runs throughout a frenetic first half that featured plenty of end-to-end action and emotion, including two flagrant fouls by the Warriors' Jordan Neff and a few occasions when players from both teams had to be separated.
North Cobb had the initial run with the game's first five points, but Norcross answered with 13 straight, led by four points each from Chatfield and Pinkett, en route to a 17-10 Blue Devils lead after one quarter.
Norcross then built as much as a 20-12 lead after a Chatfield 3-pointer with 6:36 left in the first half, but North Cobb reeled off a run of its own as the pace picked up speed.
With Dennis Young-Coleman leading the break and Austin Jacobs finishing off two of them with 3-pointers, the Warriors went on a 12-6 run over the final 6:08 of the half to cut the Blue Devils' lead to 26-24 by intermission.