Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Norcross' Diamond DeShields (22) drives to the basket against Langston Hughes during State AAAAAA high school girls basketball semifinals at the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta Saturday. Norcross defeated Langston Hughes 64-16.
ATLANTA -- The North Carolina women have a key ACC game with rival Duke today in Durham, but that didn't stop coach Sylvia Hatchell and her entire staff from making a trip on a private jet to Atlanta on Saturday.
That is where the Tar Heels' future was playing and Diamond DeShields, as usual, didn't disappoint her future coach.
"We love watching Diamond play," said Hatchell, who has won more than 900 games. "We never miss an opportunity to see her."
That's because DeShields -- the winner of the Naismith Award as the best high school senior in the country -- is referred to as a distaff version of a very famous former North Carolina standout by Hatchell.
"She reminds me of a female Michael Jordan," the veteran coach said. "She can do so many things."
DeShields scored 15 first-quarter points in the 62-16 rout of Langston Hughes in the Class AAAAAA semifinals Saturday at Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion and finished with 21 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals despite playing little in the second half.
"She is perfect for our style," Hatchell said. "We have the No. 1 recruiting class and all of them want to play with Diamond."
DeShields is used to seeing her future coach in the stands.
"No pressure," the senior said.
But the visit certainly didn't go unnoticed.
"I appreciate them coming down because they have a big game with Duke coming up," DeShields said.
"I already feel part of the North Carolina family."
Oops! Wrong uniforms
Nothing went right for Langston Hughes in its first trip to the state semifinals. The Panthers even showed up at McCamish Pavilion with the wrong uniforms.
Norcross was the designated home team, but Langston Hughes arrived with their home whites as well. The correct black uniforms were fetched from Fairburn, but the start of the scheduled 4 p.m. opening game had to be delayed 15 minutes.
Langston Hughes was assessed a technical foul and Diamond DeShields hit two free throws. Soon the Norcross lead was 14-0 and the Blue Devils were well on their way to a berth in next Saturday's Class AAAAAA championship game in Macon.
Langston Hughes finished the season 26-3 after a very disappointing day.
Lethal one-two punch
Balanced scoring is usually a key to winning basketball games. But balance is overrated when you have two players like Diamond DeShields and Shayla Cooper.
Even with reserves getting plenty of playing time in the rout of Langston Hughes, the talented seniors combined for 36 of the 62 Norcross points.
That just followed a trend in the state tournament.
In the Blue Devils' previous three games, the pair had combined for 149 points, with Georgetown signee Cooper scoring 87 and DeShields accounting for 62.
Norcross had 216 points in those three wins. So Cooper and DeShields had supplied nearly 70 percent of the team's scoring.
DeShields and Cooper accounted for 50 of the Blue Devils' 59 points in a double overtime victory over previously unbeaten Parkview in the second round.
Hillgrove upsets Wheeler
Kyle Castlin scored 20 points, including three 3-pointers and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line to lead Hillgrove to a 56-54 upset of Wheeler.
The win sends Hillgrove, the No. 2 seed out of Region 4-AAAAAA, to its first state championship basketball game in the school's history and the Hawks will face Norcross in next Saturday's title game in Macon.
B.J. Brown scored 17 for Hillgrove in the win, including a monster fourth quarter where the junior guard scored 11 points. Brown also hit three 3s for Hillgrove with made eight as a team in the win.
The Hawks broke a 39-39 tie to start the fourth quarter by ripping off a 10-2 run and held off a resilient Wheeler comeback despite making just 1 of 4 free throws in the final minute.
Wheeler's Elijah Staley led the Wildcats with 13 points and Austin Smoak scored 11.