Princeton was driven to put away Lakewood early.

The Bulldogs accomplished their goal in a 51-16 victory over the Leopards in the semifinal round of the Carolina 1-A Conference girls’ basketball tournament on Wednesday night.

It took a few minutes for Princeton to find its groove. The Bulldogs ran out to an 8-2 lead, before the Leopards made the score 8-6. However, Princeton ended the first quarter on a 5-0 run and was up 11-6.

“I knew it was going to be sluggish just by the way they were warming up,” Princeton head coach Paula Wooten said. “With no game in front of us, it was just a different atmosphere really.”

The top-seeded Bulldogs built up a double-digit lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter and never looked back.

“Defensively I think we’ve improved,” said Wooten. “I thought we’ve improved on running the floor on the break. All 10 players have improved on that.”

The Bulldogs put the game on ice in the third quarter when Tinsley Moore sank a three-pointer, and Meredith Wooten followed with a layup that increased the Bulldogs’ lead to 26 points.

In the fourth quarter, with the game in hand, Wooten was able to play her backups.

“It’s important because sometimes they don’t get enough playing time as they need to get better, but we need them,” said Wooten.

Moore led Princeton with 14 points and four three-pointers. Wooten added 13 points. Michaela Radford added seven points, and Takiria Cummings finished with six points in the victory.

“We did well, and I was very pleased. Tinsley had a great outside shooting game,” said Wooten. “Michaela played well, and they ran the break really well.”

Rilya Mitchell paced Lakewood with seven points.

Princeton advances to face the winner of tonight’s game between No. 2 Rosewood and No. 3 Neuse Charter on Friday. Tipoff is 6 p.m. at Rosewood High School.

“It’s going to be tough, but we just take it one game at a time,” said Wooten.