North Cobb’s boys basketball team, which plays Norcross today in the Class AAAAAA semifinals at Georgia Tech (8:30 p.m.), was expected to be a state contender this season after returning five starters from a 2012 quarterfinal team.
Then they were given little chance of winning this week when they played No. 1-ranked Tift County in the quarters. North Cobb was ranked No. 2.
North Cobb trailed by seven in the fourth quarter but won 68-63. North Cobb made all 15 of its free-throw attempts, and Jordan Neff scored 22 points.
‘’We knew it was going to be tough,’’ North Cobb coach Terry Gorsuch said. “We’d seen and heard how good they were and knew they played a national schedule, but at the same time, I thought we’d played a pretty demanding schedule ourselves. The key was we had to play well to give ourselves a chance. Except for a little stretch in the second quarter, I thought we played well.’’
The victory was part of a historic week at North Cobb as the girls team also made the semifinals. North Cobb is one of eight schools with both teams in the final four. The girls play North Gwinnett at 7 p.m. at Tech. North Cobb also made the semifinals for the first time in football and volleyball this academic year.
‘’Everybody at school is excited about that,’’ Gorsuch said. “it’s a situation where we’ve got a solid coaching staff across the board, but the most important part of the equation is talent. Any coach who’ll tell you they’ll win without talent is crazy.’’
The reason for the doubt about Gorusch’s team against Tift was three-fold. The first was obvious – Tift was ranked No. 1 and had what many believe is the state’s best player in Brannen Greene. Second was the road trip to Tift, some 3.5 hours away. The third was the absence of Saxon Steele, the region player of the year and team leading scorer in 2012. He is lost for the season with a knee injury.
‘’It’s where our depth came into play,’’ North Cobb coach Terry Gorsuch said. “We got contributions from different areas from guys who played his [Steele’s] minutes. We managed to take care of it that way.’’
North Cobb has rotated three seniors in Steele’s spot depending on the matchups. They are guard Leon Jordan, guard Austin Jacobs and forward Devin Everage. The four returning starters are Neff (signed with Florida Gulf Coast), Lee Moore, Dennis Young-Coleman and John Beausejour. All will play college basketball.
They’ve led North Cobb to its first semifinal. North Cobb has not been a program without talent during Gorsuch’s 14 seasons. Colin Slotter, Bryan Smithson, Michael Lusk.
‘’We’ve had some talented players,” Gorsuch said, “but this is the best combination of talent we’ve ever had.”