Staff Photo: John Bohn South Gwinnett's Qiydar Davis (25) shoots around North Gwinnett's Kamaran Calhoun (2) during Tuesday's game.
SUWANEE -- The first three minutes weren't the way South Gwinnett hoped to begin the season.
"We started out really sloppy," said coach Scott Bracco, whose team quickly fell behind 15-4 to North Gwinnett.
Soon, though, the game turned around. It was North that couldn't take care of the basketball.
"We decided to play defense," Bracco said. "That's what won the game for us."
The Comets went on a 17-0 run extending from the first quarter into the second and bounced back for a 70-62 victory Tuesday night at North in an early season non-region battle of state-ranked teams.
Qiydar Davis had 19 points and 13 rebounds despite problems with his foot and Simeon Dennis scored 18 for South, ranked No. 7 in the preseason coaches poll for Ga.PrepCountry.com.
Georgia Tech signee Chris Bolden had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but it wasn't enough for North as the Bulldogs, ranked No. 4, fell to 0-3.
"We had too many turnovers, but we pulled together and got a good win," Bracco said. "We're a young team. We played three sophomores."
North, though, is younger, starting two freshmen -- T.J. Howard and Kamaran Calhoun -- against the Comets. Howard had 12 points, but the Bulldogs' inexperience showed and lack of cohesion showed.
Down by nine after three quarters and 12 early in the fourth, North got within 65-61 in the final two minutes. But South wouldn't let them get closer.
Kyle Wright had 12 points and Logan Adams had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Montrell Marshall, a sophomore, had seven rebounds and six points off the bench.
With Bolden hitting two 3-pointers and A.J. Clemens one, North jumped out to its quick lead.
But South, down 23-11 late in the first quarter, scored 17 straight points to take the lead midway in the second quarter and the Comets were up 34-32 at halftime.
Dennis, a transfer from Central Gwinnett, sparked the South rally with 11 second-quarter points. Davis had nine points in the first half and Adams scored eight.
It was painful just watching Davis battle his foot problems in the second half.
"He jammed his toe and then had cramps," Bracco said. "He was hurting, but he stuck it out."
Clemens, one of only two returning starters for North, had 13 points, but his early foul problems hurt the Bulldogs.
North, which lost to Hillgrove and Greater Atlanta Christian in its Bulldog Tip-Off before Thanksgiving, will play Buford on Saturday at Kennesaw State. South opens Region 8-AAAAA play on Friday against Parkview.
North Gwinnett girls 67, South Gwinnet 20
The No. 3-ranked North Gwinnett girls got their season off with a bang, jumping to a 23-1 first-quarter lead en route to a 67-20 victory over South Gwinnett (2-2).
Peyton Whitted had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Lexi Brown contributed nine points, eight assists and six steals. Ariel Johnson helped spark North's fast start, scoring all seven of her points in the opening quarter. Kenisha Wilborn and Bailey Rexing also scored seven.
The Bulldogs had a 31-1 lead before the Comets got their first basket with 5:05 left in the second quarter. It was 37-9 at halftime and 55-13 after three quarters.
South lost two players in the third quarter to injuries. Kierra Clayton hurt an ankle and Jashawna injured a knee. Tiffany Jenkins led the Comets with five points.
North play at St. Pius on Saturday before starting Region 7-AAAAA play against Peachtree Ridge on Dec. 6.