Boys basketball: Norcross 43, North Gwinnett 37

While struggle to find its chemistry on offense, the Norcross boys knew it would be important to keep their focus on defensive effort on Tuesday night against North Gwinnett.

The strategy worked, as the Class AAAAAA No. 7 Blue Devils shut down No. 5 North Gwinnett in a 43-37 victory in Suwanee. Norcross (11-6) made up for any lack of style points with hard-nosed and aggressive defense.

“We held them to 37 points,” Norcross coach Jesse McMillan said. “While we’re working on our chemistry our defense has to be consistent. We challenged them to play defense tonight. We made them very sluggish, which was our gameplan.”

Norcross got behind 13-6 early in the second period but clawed to a 17-15 halftimed lead. The Blue Devils then opened the second half with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 13 points with 2:46 left in the third quarter.

North Gwinnett got back into the game thanks to the 3-point shooting of Ahmad Carver, who sparked a 9-0 burst that enabled the Bulldogs to get within four points at 36-32. But consecutive baskets by Brandon Goodwin helped Norcross regain the momentum and the Blue Devils withstood the final minutes.

“We played some of our best defense in the first half, but our offense was a little sluggish,” McMillan said. “We had a little spurt to get us going in the second half.”

Carver, who made three 3-pointers, led all scorers with 15 points. Kamaran Calhoun added 11 for Zach Smith’s team, now 13-4. Goodwin led Norcross with 14 points.

“We had good ball moment and we did a good job sharing the ball,” McMillan said. “I’m pleased we were able to come in here and get refocused and get a win over the No. 1 team in the region.”

North Gwinnett (37) – Lewis 5, Carver 15, Calhoun 11, Carter 1, Howard 2, Imatorbhebhe 3

Norcross (43) – Pinkett 4, Goodwin 14, Chatfield 4, Carter 8, Madison 8, Cameron 3, Davis 2.

Halftime: Norcross 17-15.

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