SUWANEE -- Second half surges were key for both of North Gwinnett's teams stay unbeaten on the season in Tuesday night's Region 7-AAAAAA basketball doubleheader with Duluth.
The boys clamped down on defense and got seven second-half points each from Malik Carter and Kam Calhoun to fend off the scrappy Wildcats 55-44.
Earlier in the evening, North's girls were strong in the latter quarter of each half, with Lexie Brown and Stephanie Amichia each scoring 19 points to help the Bulldogs pull away for a 72-49 win.
Perseverance and depth helped the North boys (7-0, 4-0) deal with an aggressive challenge from Duluth (5-3, 1-3) and wear down the Wildcats after halftime.
"(Duluth coach) Eddie (Hood) has done a great job with those guys, and they outplayed us in the first half," Bulldogs coach Zach Smith said. "We just had to find a way to win. Some guys just stepped up and made plays on the defensive end in the second half."
Indeed, the Wildcats gave the Bulldogs all they wanted on both ends of the court in the first half, with Shamus Goss scoring 13 of his game-high 22 points, while 6-foot-5 bookends Gregory Blackshear and Obinna Ofodile combined to swat away seven North shot attempts in the opening 16 minutes.
Still, after falling behind as much as eight points in the first quarter and trailing 13-7 after the opening frame, North remained persistent.
Carter and Ahmad Caver keyed an initial 11-0 run over the opening 3:03 of the second quarter that vaulted the Bulldogs into an 18-13 lead after Carter's layup off a Caver assist.
Still, Duluth wouldn't go away, Goss scoring eight straight points over the next 1:17 to help the Wildcats go into halftime tied at 24-all.
And after Goss hit a runner in the lane 56 seconds into the third quarter, Duluth was even again at 26-all.
But from that point, North's depth took over.
Tobias Howard connected on a 3-pointer from the right corner, and Caver scored in transition on two straight trips to trigger a 10-2 run that pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 36-28 following a pair of Carter free throws with 4:21 left in the period.
"We were just persistent in the second half," Smith said. "And I think we wore (Duluth) down."
After Duluth pulled as close as 38-33 on Goss' three-point play with 3:03 left in the third, Calhoun finished off a nice pass from Carter, and Zayah Robinson added a 3-pointer to give North a double-digit lead at 43-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
An 8-3 run over the opening 3:17 of the final frame, keyed by three points each from Calhoun and Carter, then helped North build its biggest lead of the night at 51-36, and the Bulldogs were able to keep the Wildcats at arm's length the rest of the night.
Carter and Caver each had 14 points to lead North, with Carter adding 10 rebounds, while Calhoun finished with 11 points and seven boards.
Nobody was able to join Goss in double figures for Duluth, but the Wildcats did get a game-high 12 rebounds and four blocked shots from Blackshear, while Ofodile had eight rebounds and swatted seven shots.
Like the the boys, North's girls' depth and conditioning were a factor in both halves.
"We try to stay conditioned to play all four quarters," Bulldogs coach Bryan Sellers said. "We were able to make a couple runs (late in each half) that helped us increase our lead.
Leading just 17-11 after one quarter and just 18-13 after a Taylor Auzenne drive to the basket with 6:56 left in the first half, North (6-0, 4-0) began to make its move.
Peyton Whitted connected on a stickback on North's next trip down the court, followed 27 seconds later by a layup by Amichia.
Both scored again during a 15-2 run over a 5:12 span that pushed the Bulldogs' lead to as much as 18 points before North took a 33-19 lead into halftime.
Duluth (4-3, 2-2) tried to stay close, cutting as much as a 19-point deficit down to 12 after a pair of Katie Powell free throws with 12.2 seconds left in the third quarter to head into the fourth down just 50-38.
But the Wildcats could pull no closer, with a 3-pointer by Joshlyn Belcher, a jumper from Whitted and a transition layup from Brown igniting a 17-4 run that put the game away for the Bulldogs.
Amichia finished with a double-double with 11 rebounds to go along with her points, while Brown added seven steals and six assists to her point total.
Belcher also reached double figures, finishing just short of a double-double with 12 points and nine boards, while Whitted chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Powell led Duluth, and all scorers, with 23 points, and pulled down six rebounds, while Joi Jones finished with nine.