NORCROSS — McEachern could not get anything going from the opening tip and dropped its Class AAAAAAA state quarterfinal game at Norcross 75-55 on Wednesday.
After reaching the state semifinals last season, the Indians (26-3) saw their season come to an end one game short of reaching that mark again.
“It’s disappointing when you gauge your whole season on winning a state championship, and you come up short of that goal,” McEachern coach Mike Thompson said. “This is disappointing. We had a nice string of wins coming into this, but all of the guys would exchange our record for an opportunity at a state championship.”
McEachern fell behind from the start and trailed 24-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Indians picked things up slightly in the second quarter, outscoring Norcross 18-14 in the frame and entered halftime with a 38-26 deficit.
McEachern managed to pull itself within 10 on two occasions in the third period. Devin Gordon’s jumper to open the period had the Indians trailing 38-28, and his 3-pointer with 3:55 on the clock made the score 42-32.
That, however, was as close as McEachern got the rest of the game as Brandon Boston scored nine points during a 13-3 run as Norcross (27-3) pulled in front 53-35 at the end of the third quarter.
The Blue Devils maintained a near 20-point advantage for the majority of the fourth period. Sharife Cooper’s two free throws left the Indians trailing by 19 midway through.
Kyle Sturdivant’s two free throws with 2:25 left gave Norcross its biggest lead of the game at 73-46, and back-to-back baskets from Cooper in the final minute resulted in the final score.
Norcross advanced to face Newton for Saturday’s semifinal in Buford.
McEachern had a difficult time in the paint against the Norcross defense, and the Indians’ outside shots did not fall when they were needed. Norcross’ offense proved effective on the opposite end, with the Blue Devils connecting on dunks and layups in the second half. They were also effective from the line, connecting on 20 of 22 free throws.
“We didn’t make a lot of shots, and we shot a lot outside because Norcross made it difficult for us inside,” Thompson said. “Their plan worked. They had a lot to do with our slow start and inability to come back. They were definitely prepared defensively.
“We thought we were ready, but we didn’t look it. We obviously weren’t ready. Norcross played well and we didn’t.”
Cooper scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half. Charles Smith IV posted 11 points and Isaac Okoro had 10, including six in the fourth quarter.
The Indians were only 5-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Sturdivant finished with 12 points, while Boston had a game-high 25 to lead Norcross. Issa Muhammed totaled 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, while Joseph Toppin got the Blue Devils going early, scoring 10 of his 12 points in the first period.