At the least opportune time, the shots just wouldn’t fall.
Parkview missed its first 11 3-pointers and shot 26 percent from the field, while Norcross’s Allison Johnson notched a double-double to lead the Blue Devils to a 53-35 win in the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
For the Panthers (26-4), the day started inauspiciously and never really turned their way. If starting 0 for 11 from beyond the arc wasn’t enough, Parkview quickly fell behind 11-2 with almost nothing falling from all over the court.
The cold shooting dug them a hole that was tough to dig out of, and it allowed the Norcross defense to keep sagging back toward the basket, keeping Parkview’s talented guards from finding a gap to drive into.
That left the Panthers to fire away from long range, and Norcross coach Angie Hambree was happy to see them do it as long as the balls kept clanging off the rim.
“That only works if they’re not hitting them, and I knew there’d be a run where they would start making some,” Hambree said. “And we had to stretch out a bit to cover that, but they had to prove it.”
They sort of did, as Makenna Pouengue made a couple of threes and Raven Johnson knocked down another during the final few minutes of the third quarter to cap a 13-4 run that cut the Norcross lead to 39-28 entering the fourth quarter.
But, again, Parkview’s inability to put the ball in the basket was the Panthers’ undoing, as they failed to score a point for 5-plus minutes to start the final quarter, allowing the Blue Devils (28-4) to expand the lead back to 47-28 and effectively put it away.
For all of Parkview’s offensive struggles, Norcross had few such issues.
Four of the Blue Devils’ five starters finished in double figures, led by Vash Perry’s 16 points. Tylia Gillespie added 15, and Johnson and Taylor Mason added 11 apiece. The Blue Devils shot better than 50 percent from the field and outrebounded Parkview 41-30.
It was an all-around effort for Norcross, who will be looking for its fourth state title in the past six years.
“I was really impressed with the energy,” Hambree said. “I thought Taylor, Allison and Vash really played their tails off, as far as distributing the ball and being in the right place for our inside-out game, and still be in position for rebounding.”
Parkview was led in scoring by Johnson and Pouengue, who scored all 12 of her points on second-half 3-pointers.
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