The state AAAAA playoffs continued with the round of 16 Wednesday night in Norcross High School’s gymnasium with the Norcross girls taking on Alpharetta and Centennial High School matching up with the Norcross boys.
The girls’ game got underway with a 10–2 Norcross run, which included two three-pointers by sophomore Diamond DeShields. Norcross also played strong defensively in the first quarter and led 18–6 at the end of the first eight minutes of play.
In the second quarter, Alphareta started to figure out how to penetrate the Norcross defense and utilized a strong press to begin to claw its way back into the game and even take a brief lead before the half. However, the Lady Blue Devils bounced back and took the lead 24–23 at the break.
Both teams came out of the locker room with a more physical approach in the second half of play. At first, Norcross started the third quarter with a long-distance shooting offensive approach. Alpharetta’s tough defensive play put a stop to that and when the Blue Devils began to get the ball into the paint, they were able to run away with the game in hand.
Norcross began the fourth quarter up 36–30 and DeShields made sure the game wouldn’t get any closer than that. She owned the fourth quarter and on two consecutive plays she hit a three-pointer from the corner and converted a three-point play from the foul line. DeShields finished the game with 33 points, and Norcross took the win 61–39.
“We just had to play Norcross basketball,” DeShields said. “The team as a whole was a little bit nervous coming out but we just had to settle down and play our game.”
In the boys’ game, Norcross was able to use its distinct size advantage over Centennial to maintain a strong post presence throughout the game. Led by Josiah Moore and E.Victor Nickerson, the Blue Devils took an early lead and never looked back.
In the second quarter, the Knights pulled to within four points, but with two minutes remaining in the half, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa sunk a three-pointer from the corner and Josiah Moore converted and old-fashioned three-point play to give Norcross a 35–22 lead going into halftime.
By maintaining the same strong post presence that led to Norcross’ strong post presence, the Blue Devils put the game out of reach by doing the same in the second half. Moore and Nickerson maintained their positions down low drawing fouls, while Nelson-Ododa gave Norcross a shooting threat if needed.
When the final buzzer sounded, Norcross had earned the 77–51 victory. Head Coach Jesse McMillan said he was very pleased with the way his team played underneath the basket.
“It was one of our main goals going into the game not to just throw it to the post player, but the drives around the rim,” he said. “We wanted to get high-percentage shots because we knew even if we missed those shots we’d have an opportunity to get some offensive rebounds.”