Girls basketball: North Gwinnett 64, Norcross 49

On a team loaded with big-time talent, it was the smallest girl on the court that provided the lift that No. 1-ranked North Gwinnett needed on Tuesday night to turn aside the perennial state power.

Baylee Rexing, a 5-foot-2 junior, knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 16 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 64-49 win over No. 2 Norcross. The win broke a four-game losing streak against the Blue Devils and solidified North Gwinnett’s hold on the top spot in the state rankings.

North Gwinnett (16-0) led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter after Rexing made a 3-pointer to make it 32-20. But Norcross (14-3) battled back and closed the margin to 40-36 after Sierra Butler’s basket.

That’s when Rexing came through. She connected on back-to-back treys to stretch the lead back to 10 points, sparking a 20-3 run that put the game away.

“Baylee had a huge impact,” said coach Bryan Sellers. “She’s easy to overlook sometimes. She stepped up tonight and made some shots that killed their momentum. She played hard.”

Rexing knew her role as a scorer may be intensified, as Norcross would try to diminish the production of standout guard Lexie Brown. And with Brown held to nine points, Rexing happily filled the void.

“Before the game, coach told me I was going to have to step up,” Rexing said. She added four rebounds, four assists and one steal.

North Gwinnett also got 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots from Penn State commitment Peyton Whitted. Stephanie Amichia scored 12 points with a game-high 11 rebounds.

Norcross was ld by Diamond DeShields and Shayla Cooper with 16 points and seven rebounds apiece.

“We played a great game,” Sellers said. “Everybody contributed. The girls stepped up and made some shots. I cannot be prouder.”

The two teams meet again on Jan. 23 in Norcross.

North Gwinnett (64) – Brown 9, Rexing 16, Amichia 12, Whitted 16, Belcher 7, Munlyn 4

Norcross (49) – DeShields 16, Williams 4, Cooper 16, Barber 7, Meeks 2, Stanfield 2, Johnson 2.

Halftime: North Gwinnett 34-26.

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