When non-conference opponent Richfield Revere jumped out to an early lead last Saturday in the Joe Siegferth Classic at Akron Firestone High School, Woodridge’s boys basketball team played it cool and didn’t panic in its season opener.
"We found a few things that were starting to work a little bit better for us, and our kids took advantage of it," said Woodridge head coach Ric Blevins. "We turned up the pressure quite a bit and were able to get some easy baskets off turnovers. Fortunately, we executed when we had to."
Because of that, the Bulldogs put up a 25-spot in the second quarter to pull within one point — 42-41 — at halftime.
Woodridge forged ahead in the third quarter and led 53-51 heading into the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs wound up winning the game 66-63.
"We were leading by three or four points for pretty much the entire second half," Blevins said. "I think the most we were up was by six or seven points.
"We were up by six with about a minute to go. We missed a couple free throws down the stretch, and one of Revere’s players, Pete Nance, threw up about a 35-footer at the buzzer that, fortunately for us, came up short. They’re a good basketball team."
Not surprisingly, senior shooting guard Mason Lydic led the way for Woodridge with 22 points, including three 3-pointers, and six rebounds.
"Mason does all the things that we need him to do in order for us to win," said Blevins. "He was very instrumental in the fourth quarter of making sure that we were taking good shots on the offensive end of the floor. Mason’s just Mason. He’s a heck of a basketball player."
Junior guards D.J. Snyder and Michael Massey complemented Lydic beautifully. Snyder, a point guard, scored 16 points, including three 3-pointers, while Massey had 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
"D.J. played a great game," the coach said. "He ran our offense and knew when to attack and look to score. He also knew when to distribute the ball, and when he can do that we can be a pretty dangerous basketball team.
"Michael is extremely quick and can shoot the ball well. For being a pretty big stage, I thought he did a really good job.
Junior shooting guard Joe Mehalik scored nine points.
"Joe is kind of a sneaky player," said Blevins. "You tend to fall asleep on him because he’s not as flashy as some of our other guys, but he’s really good at getting to the basket.
"He’s a very, very smart player. He sees things before they actually happen and he was very instrumental in us making that big run in the second quarter. He was able to break their defense down and get a couple of easy baskets, which made our guys loosen up a little bit."
Junior small forward Ikye Leggette scored four points and power forward Elijah Arnett, his classmate, chipped in three points.
"I thought Elijah played a really good game," Blevins said. "I thought our entire bench was fantastic. Whether they played two minutes or 12 minutes, I thought those guys came in and gave positive minutes every time they hit the floor."
Blevins was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
"Anytime you win, you’ve got to find the joy in that. We were very happy to come out of there with a win," he said. "I think our kids understand that we have a lot of work to do to be the kind of basketball team that we think ultimately we can be.
"But, at the same time, there’s no better way to learn lessons than winning basketball games and learning at the same time. That’s a powerful tool."
Woodridge is scheduled to open Portage Trail Conference Metro Division play Friday at Ravenna at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs are set to play non-conference opponent West Salem Northwestern Saturday as part of the Greynolds Classic at Barberton High School at 12:45 p.m.
Woodridge will play Metro Division rival Streetsboro in its home opener Tuesday at 7 p.m. and are set to host Lodi Cloverleaf next Friday at 7 p.m.