SUWANEE — The North Gwinnett girls basketball players’ biggest challenge entering tonight’s final of their own Jared Cook Holiday Classic might be guarding against overconfidence.
The Bulldogs realize they can’t be disillusioned by Wednesday’s 60-16 semifinal dominance of Kennesaw Mountain. The Mustangs, because of disciplinary reasons, were without two starters and three players total who average a combined 21 points.
Nonetheless, North’s Lexie Brown revived her shooting touch for a game-high 18 points, while Madison Branch chipped in 12 and Ariel Johnson eight to lead the Bulldogs into tonight’s 6:35 p.m. final against Peachtree Ridge.
“Winning tonight was nice, but we’ve got to come with our best game or we’ll lose,” North coach Bryan Sellars said. “With the (Kennesaw Mountain) score what it was, it was hard to keep up the intensity level. We’ve got to find that intensity level again for the final.”
North had its way with Kennesaw from the outset, outscoring the Mustangs 15-0 in the first period and 33-1 by intermission. The Bulldogs didn’t shoot that well in the half, but the Mustangs shot poorly, repeatedly missing inside opportunities and netting only one of six foul shots. Kennesaw didn’t score until 5:02 remained in the half, when Dior Wood made the second of two free throws.
North led 49-8 after three quarters and played its reserves much of the second half.
Ten North players scored in Tuesday’s 76-36 opening-round win over Dacula, and nine lit the scoreboard Wednesday. Brown had four 3-pointers, as did Branch, who made two in the third quarter and two in the fourth.
Kennesaw, which had its full lineup in Tuesday’s 53-43 first-round win over Chapel Hill, got four points apiece from Anna Vonck and Nicole Schwartz, while Nandi Edouard chipped in three. The Mustangs will play M.L. King today at 3:20 p.m.