The celebration goes on at Norcross High after basketball sweep

One of my favorite all-time photos -- Norcross High guard Chris Bolden has tears of joy as winning the state championship sinks in. Bolden scored the deciding points on four straight foul shots (AJC Photo by Hyosub Shin)

One of my favorite all-time photos -- Norcross High guard Chris Bolden has tears of joy as winning the state championship sinks in. Bolden scored the deciding points on four straight foul shots (AJC Photo by Hyosub Shin)

The wild court celebration by members of Norcross High School boys team after they upset Milton for last weekend’s Class AAAAA state championship paled compared to the chaotic scene at the school later that night.

The Norcross boys and girls teams — which swept the respective championships in the state’s largest classification — rode together on the same team bus leaving Gwinnett Arena. They were followed by a caravan of nearly 300 cars to the Norcross gym.

“There were so many people that the police had to direct traffic in front of the school,” said Angie Hembree, coach of the Norcross girls. Hembree was stuck in the traffic, but was waved through when she held the state championship trophy out of her car window for the police to see.

“We got at gym just before the team bus, and the car was almost instantly surrounded by kids jumping up and down,” Hembree said with a laugh. “Some of the kids were coming through the window to give me hugs.”

The veteran coach estimated that nearly 1,000 Norcross supporters appeared for an informal pep rally that lasted about an hour. Said Hembree, “It’s just so special, seeing the pure joy from the kids over what they accomplished. It was a moment that they will never forget for the rest of their lives. I know I won’t.”

The championship was expected for the Norcross girls, but not for the boys, who trailed Milton by 10 points with less than four minutes left before rallying for an improbable 59-55 win. Milton entered the finals as the defending state champion, and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA and No. 4 in the nation by USA Today.

“I don’t know if there are really upsets in state championship games because the teams that make it that far deserve to be there,” Norcross boys coach Jessie McMillan said. “There’s an old saying, ‘Anything can happen in one game.’ Maybe it was an upset, but not a big upset. Then again, I’m sure there are people that feel that it was a big upset.”

Who is the favorite for next year’s Class AAAAA championship? Wheeler, Milton and Norcross always seem to be in the hunt. Who else and why?

35 comments Add your comment

Fly McFaddin

March 17th, 2011
7:06 am

Powerful picture. Congrat’s to the teams from Norcross


March 17th, 2011
7:45 am

Congrats Hembree and staff what a class act you are I watched you this year like how you get your staff involved what a great team you have. Enjoy the celebration look forward to next year


March 17th, 2011
8:07 am

McEachern, North Cobb and Hillgrove will all be strong again next year in girls 5AAAAA


March 17th, 2011
8:09 am

Carvell: Thanks for your coverage. I used to live in Georgia and get to follow these things still thanks to you.

I watched the Milton/Norcross game last night. That was truly a great upset. You didn’t need to know which team had all the top recruits…Milton is supremely talented. It amazes me how Boyd takes over a team and all of a sudden he has several D-I players showing up.

Shannon Scott (think that’s his name) is the real deal. Fantastic player. Nolte is very good but really faded in the 2nd half. Royal didn’t really show up but shows a very nice stroke.

Norcross really mixed it up with their defenses and that ultimately led to their upset. 2-2-1 full court, 2-2-1 half court, 1-3-1, 1-2-2, man…… really got Milton out of their rhythm big time.

Walker, Texas Ranger

March 17th, 2011
8:16 am

Boyd out coached again. He is the Bobby Cremins of High School Basebetball. Great recruiter, terrible bench coach. Should have been eliminated by Norcross last year.

Caleb G

March 17th, 2011
8:47 am

norcross boys wanted it more, they won that game heart and determination nice way to finish the season


March 17th, 2011
9:58 am

Sounds like the kind of euphoria that typically surrounded Cobby Rainey’s great Stone Mountain teams of the early 1970s.


March 17th, 2011
10:45 am

Congratulations to Norcross HS!!!!


March 17th, 2011
10:47 am

The celebration SHOULD go on for the Blue Devils of Norcross!! There were sooooo many nay sayers & they shut them up!! The boys came outta the gate slow because they played a national schedule & were still finding themselves during state/region play…

As for the girls, they played the best of the best.. They only have to cross the street to play the second best girls team in the state.. & they won vs the Wolves…

The teams in Gwinnett can play within the county & be great… It’s the BEST sports & academic county in GEORGIA & the USA…

Let’s not forget Buford girls (boys were runner up to GAC) – Weslean girls – GAC boys (girls were runner up to Buford)

& there’s no need to throw in football (Brookwood & Buford), & other sports as Gwinnett dominates!!!


March 17th, 2011
11:30 am

Can you please add this picture to the photo gallery.


March 17th, 2011
12:33 pm

Thats a nice pic. I heard about the turmoil but regardless of what I think and others winning a championship as a team is an unforgettable dream.


March 17th, 2011
12:41 pm

Morrow will be there.


March 17th, 2011
1:23 pm

Bolden hit the longest 3 pointer that was not a last second buzzer beater that I have ever seen in a game…when they needed it! Kid is the truth…and icewater in his veins. Teammates choked right before him on free throws. This kid was standing on the line CLAPPING. He wanted it and knew he would pull through.

SWD Panther Paw

March 17th, 2011
1:29 pm

snoopy – I will match Dekalb county sports against Gwinnett county sport’s any day for basketball, football and track……. let’s see just since 2004.

Miller Grove boy’s basketball (3 straight titles)
Columbia boy’s basketball(4 titles)
Tucker boy’s basketball(1 title)
Southwest Dekalb girl’s basketball(3 straight titles)
Redan girl’s basketball(1 title)
Columbia girl’s basketball(1 title)
Stephenson girl’s basketball(2 titles)
Tucker football(1 title)
Redan boy’s track(2 titles)
Southwest Dekalb boy’s track(1 title)
Miller Grove boy’s track(1 title)
Redan girl’s track(1 title)
Southwest Dekalb girl’s track(3 straight titles)
Tucker girl’s track(1 title)

We are in the running………..


March 17th, 2011
1:33 pm

Is Norcross planning to send back all the players (boys and girls) that they took from other Atlanta high schools to make their All Star teams? Next year the favorites in AAAAA boys will be Milton, Wheeler and Norcross again, because only those teams who recruit can now win the championship and those three coaches are the best.

Biff Pocaroba II

March 17th, 2011
2:38 pm

Unfortunately, the days of Wally and Beaver staying at home to play hoops for the home team are over in the modern world. With college scholarships and the dream of playing pro basketball to aim for, many of the most talented young players of today want to go where they have the best chance to shine. It’s simply now a part of our sporting culture. Congratulations, Norcross, on a truly great year.


March 17th, 2011
2:57 pm

E. Victor was the player of the game !!!


March 17th, 2011
4:28 pm

When crunch time came Norcross played the big D and got the rebounds. It is heart and desire. E Victor changed the rhythm of the game and for my money the MVP. Croom was the heart and owned the boards. It’s always nice to see a team dig down and win and for this old guy it may have been the greatest game I have ever seen and I saw a Celtic -Buffalo Brave playoff game with Ernie D- Bob Macadoo vs. Havlicek and Cowens with Buffalo winning on the last shot of the game(Garfield Heard) I think Charlie Scott was on that Celtic team.


March 17th, 2011
5:41 pm

Panther paw – You lose…

If I were to add the swimming & Diving, tennis, baseball, cross country & wrestling & all others, there are too many to count..

I am an old Avondale (RIP) DeKalb person myself, but the last 20 years has been ALL GWINNETT County & you & the State knows it…

Three Straight Plus One

March 17th, 2011
6:23 pm

Norcross girls will be picked to go all the way. Only losing 2 seniors.

On the boys side, Wheeler and Milton will be back and Norcross should be right in the middle again.

Gwinnett Basketball

March 17th, 2011
7:41 pm

I agree with you Michael, EVictor would be the MVP, he changed the rhythm of the game when he hit that three and tied it up.
Blue: Norcross scored 59 points. Nickerson, Croom, Bolden, Moore & Herbert all put points up-that’s how Norcross won the game. I apologize if some need their ego’s stroked more than others. That was a team win off of hard working players-ALL that stepped on the court. This was Norcross player’s problem at the beginning of the season, everyone trying to show each other up. Personally, I think a lot of it stems from the parents. It takes 5 players on the court to win a game. Norcross has too many good players for one to get all the credit. Congrats on the championship Norcross-all of you played a great game!


March 17th, 2011
8:26 pm

E Victor actually changed it in the 3rd quarter when the came from behind 15 and made it 6 by the end of the qtr.

Norcross Blue Devil

March 17th, 2011
10:23 pm

My kids go to Norcross, and I have to say this was the most exciting game I have seen in 14 years. We were the underdawgs all season, and as crazy as that student section chant “We Believe that We Will Win”, sounds, you could tell between the 3-4th qtr break, that something magical was going to happen. The Boys took the game when they went out in the 4th qtr. and knew they were going to do it. As a fan, you could feel it. Some Milton parents sitting near us felt it also, you could tell it in their eyes., the look of worry…. Congratulations to Both Coaches Hembree and McMillan, The Dawning of a new era… has arrived at Norcross…

Go Devils

March 18th, 2011
1:36 am

Milton is new to the scene….Wheeler has been the gold standard in AAAAA over the years, with Norcross being the best over the past 10 years. Peachtree Ridge and Collins Hill should always be in the hunt based on districting and resources. South Cobb is always a threat, along with McEachern, and Centennial…again, resources. Out of Dekalb, Stephenson – MLK – Redan seem to be in the mix a lot.

Savannah used to produce consistent contenders, but Metro Atlanta really has dominated over the past 8-10 yrs….look for a team like Beach/Savannah/Camden to be in the hunt.

Go Devils

March 18th, 2011
1:39 am

By the way, can anyone help me get one of those silver Nike Norcross warm-ups????


March 18th, 2011
7:38 am

Wheeler is going to be good, Chuck will only get better over the summer what other team has a big like that?
Norcross will be good 3 strong returning seniors..Myles Autry sophmore watch out he’s good
Milton questionable

SWD Panther Paw

March 18th, 2011
9:02 am

snoopy – I kept the comparison to football, basketball and track and just from 2004 to present. We aren’t to shabby in the other sport’s either. Let me check the actual record’s on the GHSA site. I think you just might be making some assumptions that my not be true.


March 18th, 2011
9:06 am

@ Panther Paw since Snoopy included GAC which is a private school in Gwinnett, Marist and ST Pius are private schools in Dekalb County that have won many state titles in various sports in recent years.

just me

March 18th, 2011
9:46 am

Tift will be back in the hunt other than Dixon their better players were young and the best player was the freshman. That freshman class along with the sophmores are going to be good enough to at least get back to the final four and possibly the championship game within the next three years. The next three years for Tift basketball looks bright. I no it is going to be tough to compete with the Atlanta schools but Tift will be in the mix!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SWD Panther Paw

March 18th, 2011
10:41 am

6AAAA – good looking out. I didn’t want to mention the dekalb private schools…….since it appears they don’t like to be included as dekalb school’s…… but for the sake of snoopy’s argument I guess I should have.


March 18th, 2011
4:09 pm

Norcross was pre season number 7 in the country….

Guido Renee

March 21st, 2011
9:44 am

Which county has the best teams? Who cares; get over it.


March 22nd, 2011
9:17 am

Archer High School 8-AAAAA may be a new school but the talent is there….

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