SUWANEE -- Norcross must be sending a message this season. The two-time defending AAAAA state champions are off to a hot start in the young season and dominated region rival Peachtree Ridge on Thursday night on the road.
The Blue Devils defended their way to a 70-37 stomping of the Lions and made it look easy. Norcross came out firing from the start thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from junior guards Taariq Muhammad and Denzail Jones.
Norcross never looked back despite a Peachtree Ridge run that lasted all of four minutes. The Blue Devils did a great job with the press and just forced the Lions into turnover after turnover.
Al-Farouq Aminu, the state's top senior, made it look easy, scoring 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds, had four big blocks, dished out three assists and collected a couple of steals. He is the most complete player in the state regardless of class.
Muhammad scored 18 points and had nine assists while Jones added 12 points.
What we learned:
- This Norcross club is finding its own identity early in the season. The big three from last year (Gani Lawal, Tony Neysmith and Jordan DeMercy) have been replaced by this year's big three (Aminu, Muhammad and Jones). The current big three have difficult skills than last year's club but similarly effective.
Aminu creates such much havoc defensively because of his length and agility. Muhammad is a great set up man with a developing three point shot and Jones, the energy spark in the backcourt, is a sharp-shooter. In 7-AAAAA, no one can match-up with them. In fact, we believe they will go undefeated against state teams this year in the regular season.
- The Blue Devils look like a team with a lot to prove this season and they've been doing it on the defensive end first and foremost this year. They might be a better defensive team in terms of overall quickness and keeping teams from getting the ball across the mid line than they were last year.
- Peachtree Ridge lost its big four from last year (Kevin Anderson, Zach Graham, Cameron Heyward and Bassy Inameti) and is currently going through a youth movement. The Ridge has a key senior in Bryen Pyles, who struggled mightily against Norcross, but the future is looking very strong. We were incredibly impressed with Khalid Mutakabbir, a 6-3 junior guard. He's a do-everything player that has a chance to be an emerging player in the state this year and beyond.
Freshman Cory Blackwell has created quite a buzz with his hot start this year and there were flashes of good things to come from the youngster in the defeat. He's big, strong and active.