NORCROSS — A slow start didn’t deter the Norcross boys for long in their Region 7-AAAAAAA tournament semifinal against Parkview.
Brandon Boston and Kyle Sturdivant, as well as a little improvisation on the defensive end, kick-started the No. 3 state-ranked Blue Devils, who turned around an early deficit around into an 89-64 victory Wednesday night at Meadowcreek High School.
Boston led four players in double figures with 24 points and added a game-best seven rebounds, while Sturdivant added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists to help Norcross move into the championship game, which means a rubber game with fifth-ranked Meadowcreek on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
It was a defensive adjustment that the Blue Devils made on the fly, switching to a full-court 2-1-2 trap after Parkview (15-11) built as much as a 22-14 lead early in the second quarter behind Jamiel Wright and Derrick Brown Jr.
“Credit to the guys that were on the floor when we did that, because we didn’t really go into the game expecting to try to play full-court because their guards are so talented,” Norcross coach Jesse McMillan said. “I don’t know who it was, whether it was Kyle or B.J. (Boston), but (someone) had the wherewithal to kind of call that on their own, and they owned it. … At the end of the year, you’ve got to trust your guys on the floor. If they feel like they have an advantage, you want to roll with it as long as they’re successful with it. That change to the trap was something they came up with on their own.”
The defensive switch ignited a 25-6 run over the remainder of the half to help Norcross turn the eight-point deficit around into a 39-28 lead by intermission.
Parkview tried to fight back in the second half, using hot perimeter shooting from Miles Kelly, who finished with a team-high 15 points with the help of four 3-pointers, and Greg Blackwell to pull as close as seven points 51-44 late in the third quarter.
But Norcross scored the next two baskets, including an alley-oop lob from Sturdivant to Caleb Murphy, who threw down the dunk to push the lead back to 11 at 55-44 with 2:15 left in the quarter, and the Panthers would get no closer.
Murphy finished with 19 points, while Jaden Harris added 11 points off the bench and Kevon Eskridge contributed nine points.
Brown joined Kelly in double figures with 14 points, while Tyler Wagner added nine points and Wright and Allen Terrell chipped in seven points each for Parkview, which takes on Berkmar in the third-place game Friday at 4:30 p.m.