SUWANEE -- The first half wasn't pretty defensively for North Gwinnett, but during a scoreless stretch between the third and fourth quarters gave the Bulldogs a big lead as they beat Roswell 63-53 in the Jared Cook Classic.
Down 37-36 with 5:36 to go in the third quarter, North (2-0) held Roswell scoreless for the next 9:07 as it pushed its lead to 21 points before Roswell finally scored.
"We didn't defend well in the first half," North head coach Zachary Smith said. "It was a total team effort in the second half. You can't hold opponents scoreless for that long without it being a team effort."Leading the charge on the defensive end was Cam Calhoun, who had five blocks to stop potential Roswell (1-2) baskets in close.
"Cam is an amazing defender," Smith said. "As a freshman last year, we were putting him on the other team's best player, so that shows you how much confidence we have in his defensive abilities."
As the fourth quarter rounded out, Roswell made a mini-run, scoring the last eight points of the game, but it was too little too late.
Roswell controlled the flow of the game early, using good ball movement to get open shots.
After taking a nine-point lead, Roswell started to waver on defense, giving North a chance to get back into the game.
T.J. Howard led all scorers with 26 points, while Ahmad Caver had 11 points and five rebounds for North.
In the early game, Mill Creek used a 19-9 second quarter to dispose of Alpharetta 59-45. The Hawks (3-0) got 18 points and six rebounds from Elijah Carter, 14 points from T.J. Christopher and 11 points from Trevon Shaw.
Mill Creek and Alpharetta (1-2) traded 6-0 runs to begin the game, with Mill Creek going on another run, this time 8-0, to take a 14-6 lead just past the halfway point of the first quarter. The Hawks would continue a 4-0 run they started at the end of the first quarter, scoring the first 10 points of the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead.
The third quarter saw both teams come out sluggish as neither could get into any kind of rhythm offensively. Alpharetta closed the gap to 10 points by the end of the quarter and looked to make a run into the fourth. Connor Ramsey scored five quick points for Alpharetta to bring the game to 48-43, but the Raiders could only manage three more points the rest of the way as the Hawks pulled away.
"It was a sluggish game," Mill Creek head coach Chad Rogers said. "There wasn't a lot of intensity, but we got the win. We've still got a lot of work to do."