Photo: Craig Cappy North Gwinnett's Peyton Whitted (25) scores over Lambert's Corrie Baker (2) during the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs Tuesday night.
SUWANEE -- North Gwinnett started fast and finished strong in its opening game of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs with a solid 67-30 win over Lambert on Tuesday night.
With the win, North (26-1) advanced to the tournament's second round, where it will host the Archer-Etowah winner on Friday night at 7 p.m.
"We came out ready to play," North head coach Bryan Sellars said. "We shot the ball well in the first half and any time you can put 40 points on the board before halftime, you're offensive efficiency is pretty good."
That efficiency was evident from the opening tip as North hit its first four shots to quickly open up a 10-0 lead.
Joshlyn Belcher had the hot hand in the early going for the Bulldogs, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter in helping North to a 23-5 cushion by the end of the period.
"When we hit our first shot of the game, it really set the tone for us," North guard Lexie Brown said. "Especially when it's Josh (Belcher) that hits it because her shots are so good. I knew when she hit her first shot like that, it was going to be a good night."
And it turned out to be a good night for both Belcher and Brown.
Belcher finished with five 3-pointers and 17 points to lead North, while Brown followed up with 15 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds.
Brown's 15 points put her into unchartered territory for North as she surpassed the 2,000-point mark and became the most prolific scorer to play at North Gwinnett, surpassing Tiffany Beard, who played under Phil Hall in the early 1990s.
"I thought I was really far away from (2,000 points) and was talking to my mom about it the other day, thinking I wasn't going to reach it," Brown said. "But I got it tonight and it was a nice surprise."
Brown scored 11 in the first half and needed just one more for the milestone but had to wait until 6:28 left in the fourth quarter before finally coming through with a layup after recording her fifth steal of the night.
"We've played some tough teams this year but (North) is probably, by far, the best team I've coached against," Lambert head coach Seth Thompson said. "They're so quick and anticipate so well and feel like it's a gift to play a team like this because we're trying to build our future to be able to compete with teams like that."
Lambert (10-18) trailed 40-13 at the half and never mounted a serious challenge, despite slowing down the tempo in the second half in order to limit the number of touches for the North offense.
Morgan Jackson was the bright spot for the Longhorns on offense with 15 points, coming off of five 3-pointers.
North had two others score in double digits, getting 14 points from Peyton Whitted and 10 from Baylee Rexing.
Stephanie Amichia of North led all players in rebounds with six.