Woodridge junior guard Mason Lydic scorched host Norton for 16 points in the first quarter Feb. 10 in a Portage Trail Conference Metro Division game.

After that, the Panthers did everything in their power -- including double-teaming him -- to keep him from scoring.

That was no problem for Woodridge, but senior Preston Clark came to the rescue.

"When you leave Preston open, he steps up and makes big shots, and that's what he did," said Woodridge head coach Ric Blevins. "And Mason didn't try to force shots either. He stayed within our offense and did a nice job of distributing the basketball."

Clark scored 22 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and hit some clutch free throws down the stretch as Woodridge came away with a hard-fought 63-59 victory.

"You can't put a price tag on senior leadership," Blevins said.

Lydic wound up with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and 8 rebounds.

Woodridge led 23-19 after one quarter, 36-33 at halftime and 51-45 after three quarters.

"Norton played very well," said the coach. "They came out with a pretty good game plan and their kids shot the ball really well. We were never able to push ourselves away from them. In fact, they had the lead a few times in the second half. It came right down to the wire."

Senior point guard Zach Nelsen scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers.

"Zach hit a couple of really big jump shots when we were struggling offensively," Blevins said. "He's not a guy who scores all the time, but he's really good at letting the ball find him."

Senior forward Marlon King was his usual consistent self with 8 points and 8 rebounds.

Senior center Aaron Jones was a monster underneath. To go with his 2 points, he had 7 rebounds and 8 blocked shots.

Sophomore post player Elijah Arnett scored two points.

Woodridge carried a 19-1 overall record and a 12-1 PTC Metro mark into a game at division rival Springfield Feb. 17, but the result was not available at press time. Victory against the Spartans would secure the outright Metro Division title for Woodridge.

The Bulldogs conclude the regular season Feb. 21 on Senior Night at home against non-conference foe Akron Garfield at 7:30 p.m.

Woodridge then gets a 10-day break until the high school version of March Madness begins for them.

Seeded second in the Division II district tournament at Stow-Murnoe Falls, Woodridge will receive a first-round bye before hosting the winner of the game between Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Streetsboro in a sectional final March 3 at 7 p.m.

"Whether we play Streetsboro or CVCA," said Blevins, "we've got a pretty good notebook on both of them, so we're going to do as much prep ahead of time as we can for both teams."

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