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Norcross sweeps into second round with easy wins

Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross' Diamond DeShields (22) shoots while guarded by South Forsyth's Rachel Myers (23) during the first period of a girls Class AAAAAA  first round state basketball playoff game played at Norcross on Wednesday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross' Diamond DeShields (22) shoots while guarded by South Forsyth's Rachel Myers (23) during the first period of a girls Class AAAAAA first round state basketball playoff game played at Norcross on Wednesday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross' Nia Holloway (34) guards South Forsyth's Ally Welch (10) during the second period of a girls Class AAAAAA first round state basketball playoff game played at Norcross on Wednesday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross' Diamond DeShields (22) shoots during the first period against South Forsyth in a girls Class AAAAAA first round state basketball playoff game played at Norcross on Wednesday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross' Shayla Cooper (32) shoots over South Forsyth's Lauren Calvert (11) during the second period of a girls Class AAAAAA first round state basketball playoff game played at Norcross on Wednesday.

NORCROSS -- Neither the Norcross boys nor girls had much of a test in the opening round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament Wednesday night.

That won't be the case in the second round, though, and that is especially true for the Blue Devils girls.

Angie Hembree's team, which routed South Forsyth 80-32, will play at unbeaten Parkview on Friday night in an early tournament showdown.

The Blue Devils boys, dominant in an 81-24 first-round pasting of Lambert in the second game of the home doubleheader, have a tough opponent of their own coming up on Saturday when they host Archer.

Region 7 champ Norcross (23-6) has won 13 straight and coach Jesse McMillan's team is arguably playing as well as anyone in the state going into the game with the Tigers (22-7), the runner-up in Region 8.

However, it was the potential girls match-up of Region 7 runner-up Norcross (23-5) and Region 8 champion Parkview (29-0) that stood out as soon as the brackets were filled.

"They are deep and very aggressive," Hembree said of the Panthers, who have won their games by an average of more than 35 points. "We're going to have to be at our best against them."

But Parkview -- ranked No. 10 nationally by USA Today -- was also unbeaten a year ago before losing to Norcross 63-48 in the state quarterfinals.

"Their team this year is better," Hembree said. "They have more depth and are bigger."

Of course, few teams can match Norcross in star power with Diamond DeShields and Shayla Cooper.

Cooper had 28 points and DeShields scored 19 as Norcross ripped South Forsyth, the No. 3 seed from Region 6. The War Eagles (20-9) were making their first state tournament appearance since 2002 and were overmatched from the start.

Norcross, bouncing back from a 58-53 loss to once-beaten North Gwinnett in the Region 7 championship game, scored 18 straight points en route to a 24-4 first-quarter lead and was up 40-12 at halftime.

Georgetown signee Cooper had 16 points -- 10 in the second quarter -- at the break while Sydney Marshall already had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Blue Devils out-rebounded cold-shooting South Forsyth 25-9 in the first half and forced 11 turnovers.

It didn't get better for the War Eagles in the third quarter. DeShields scored 10 points and Norcross led 60-25 going into the shorted fourth quarter.

Cooper added seven rebounds, six steals and four assists to her game-high point total and North Carolina signee DeShields also contributed six assists and five steals. Marshall, a 6-foot-2 junior, finished with 13 points and a game-best 14 rebounds. Rachel Myers, South Forsyth's only senior starter, scored 12 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Sarah Myers, Rachel's freshman sister, scored 10.

The boys game was as lopsided as the girls one, with Norcross dominating Lambert (17-12) thanks to its stifling defense.

The Longhorns, led by former South Gwinnett coach Scott Bracco, were in the boys state tournament for the first time and the No. 4 seed from Region 6 was no match for the Blue Devils in speed or size.

Norcross, which dominated the boards, forced seven first-quarter turnovers while taking a 17-7 lead and turned up the heat even more in the second quarter, forcing nine mistakes while going up 39-14 at the break.

Then things got even more lopsided, with the Blue Devils taking a 67-23 lead into the shortened fourth quarter.

Brandon Goodwin scored 12 points in the third quarter and finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Ricky Madison, the Blue Devils' sixth man, scored 16 points -- 14 in the first half -- and Andre Chatfield added 12. Norcross had 10 players score.

Logan Bush was the only Lambert player to reach double figures, scoring 12 points.

"We're scoring a lot because of our defense," McMillan said. "We're playing very well at that end and it gets our transition game going. We're very focused. I'm pleased with the way we are approaching each game."

But Archer is also very athletic and will pose a significant challenge for the Blue Devils.

"They have a good point guard and a lot of three and four-year starters," McMillan said of the Tigers. "It will definitely be a tough game."