NORCROSS, GA -- A lot of times in basketball, the rematch never matches the original. That was certainly the case on Tuesday night as nationally ranked Norcross played host to Centennial in the Georgia state playoffs.
The two played for the AAAAA state title last year and Norcross snuck away with a one-point victory and the championship. This year's game was a little different as Norcross came away with a 69-54 win in front of a standing-room only crowd and sent a message that this year was definitely different.
Al-Farouq Aminu played like the McDonald's All-American he is. The 6-foot-8 forward scored 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and gave Centennial fits with his length and athleticism.
"I think we just stuck to what we are doing well. There wasn't really a secret to what we did," Aminu said. "We wanted to just weigh them down on defense."
Aminu certainly helped weigh down Centennial with his length and attention on the glass as a rebounder and interior defender. Defenisvely, his presence, along with unsigned senior A.J. Hawkins (13 points), inside pushed Centennial's offense to the perimeter.
Junior point guard Taariq Muhammad scored 15 points and came alive in the second half against his former team. He added five assists and five rebounds in the victory.
"We came out as the aggressive team and we wanted to win with defense," Muhammad said. "This is the state tournament. You have to win by defense first and offense second I knew we would be okay tonight. We beat them three times in the summer."
Centennial junior Lorenzo Brown ended his junior season on Tuesday night. But he didn't go down without a fight. The four-star combo guard from the class of 2009 poured in a game-high 25 points.
Brown, a 6-foot-4 junior, scored at will inside the lane in the first half and certainly lived up to his billing as one of the elite level players in Atlanta's 2009 class. His efforts, however, were not enough as Norcross pulled away in the second half after going into halftime by one.
Memphis and Georgia State were on hand for the game.
Norcross will play Berkmar on Saturday. Berkmar features Welsey Witherspoon who is one of the top unsigned seniors in the nation.