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Bulldogs rally for region win over Peachtree Ridge

Staff Photo: John Bohn Peachtree Ridge's Aaron Augustin (22) makes a defensive move on North Gwinnett's Tobias Howard (14) during the second period of a boys basketball game played at North Gwinnett on Tuesday.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Peachtree Ridge's Aaron Augustin (22) makes a defensive move on North Gwinnett's Tobias Howard (14) during the second period of a boys basketball game played at North Gwinnett on Tuesday.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett's Tobias Howard (14) shoots over Peachtree Ridge defender Eric Hamilton (11) during the second period of a boys basketball game playedTuesday at North Gwinnett.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett's Kamaran Calhoun (22) dunks the ball against Peachtree Ridge during the second period of a boys basketball game played at North Gwinnett on Tuesday.

SUWANEE -- Three- pointers changed the momentum, but baskets at the rim finished the game for North Gwinnett.

The Bulldogs hit seven 3s and Peachtree Ridge hit five, yet three straight layups by Malik Carter finished off the Lions in a 54-49 North Gwinnett win.

Carter scored the final six points of the game, including a one-handed slam in traffic off of a nice feed from Ahmed Caver.

"It was time to lock in, it was clutch time," Carter said. "(On the dunk) I just felt it. I took off.

"It's exciting. It's all excitement and hype."

Carter scored just eight points in the game.

The win keeps North within striking distance in Region 7-AAAAAA at 11-3. Peachtree Ridge falls to 11-2 in the region.

"This region is going to go down to the wire," North head coach Zach Smith said. "We are all kind of jockeying for position for the region tournament, which is all that matters.

This win mattered, too.

Taking down the Lions evened the season series after a loss at Peachtree Ridge in the first meeting.

"It was really important," Carter said. "We are the comeback kids."

And though they were never down much, North made plenty of small comebacks Tuesday.

After shooting out to an early lead, Peachtree Ridge started the 3-point bonanza with four different players hitting from long range in the first quarter.

North answered with three of its own, including two from Caver. But the Lions' Amir Warnock scored his team's first field goal on a inbounds play at the buzzer to give Peachtree Ridge a 14-12 lead. Peachtree Ridge didn't give back the lead until the fourth quarter.

The field goal was part of six straight points scored by the Lions and an 13-4 run that saw Peachtree Ridge build a 25-16 lead late in the second quarter. But the intensity of the Bulldogs' defense picked up, leading to three turnovers and a pair of fast-break dunks by North Gwinnett to cut the halftime deficit to 25-22.

Caver hit his third 3 to tie the game at 27 early in the third quarter, but Peachtree Ridge went off again, making a small 9-4 run led by the big-man Warnock. He led the Lions with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

But like always, back came North, tying the game again in the fourth quarter with two straight 3s by Tobias Howard and when Caver hit his fourth and final 3, the Bulldogs led for the first time since leading 7-6.

"We didn't get out on the shooter they way we wanted to," said acting Peachtree Ridge head coach Matt Stratemeyer. Stratemeyer, a former Peachtree Ridge player, was coaching in place of the ill Keith Arrington and found out about four hours before game time he would be coaching. "I thought we fought pretty hard. We didn't execute great, if coach had been here it would probably have been better, but they competed."

But after North took the lead, it never gave it back, taking the game from the perimeter to the rim and Carter.

"(The 3s) definitely flipped momentum and we were lucky they went in," Smith said. "Once we got the lead, we didn't want to settle and we got buckets at the rim, and that was the difference at the end."

North girls 54, Peachtree Ridge 35

A two-point game at the half, North Gwinnett finally asserted itself, outscoring Peachtree Ridge 25-10 in the third quarter to put the Lions away and roll to a 54-35 win.

North's Baylee Rexing and Peyton Whitted scored six points each in the quarter. Whitted led all scorers with 15 and Rexing added 11.

Melissa Turvy led Peachtree Ridge with 13 points, Lorrie Cruse scored 11 and Justina Young scored 10.