Without two starters, including injured leading scorer Josh Decker, the Woodridge boys basketball team fought and clawed its way to a 55-52 victory Jan. 31 at home over Portage Trail Conference Metro Division rival Ravenna.
The Bulldogs led 16-14 after one quarter, 28-26 at halftime and 39-36 after three quarters.
"We played a pretty good third quarter and got up eight or nine points a couple of different times, but we hit a cold streak in the fourth quarter shooting the basketball and struggled and let Ravenna back in it," Woodridge head coach Ric Blevins said. "They had a four-point lead on us with about a minute-and-a-half to play, but fortunately, we were able to hit a couple shots and create a couple turnovers and turn that deficit into a win.
"I thought our kids did a pretty good job of accepting the challenge of playing without two of our starters. We had some other guys step up and play some good minutes for us. Ravenna is a much-improved team and we were fortunate to beat them."
On Tuesday, Woodridge lost 53-48 at home to Medina Highland.
In the win over the Ravens, senior guard Brandon Albright led the way for the Bulldogs with 22 points, including four 3-point shots.
"Brandon played a really good basketball game for us. He’s been better recently," said Blevins. "He’s a guy who provides a lot of leadership for us. He deserves to have a couple of good nights because he works awful hard. He’s a very positive guy in our locker room and just does a lot of good things for us."
Senior shooting guard Josh Fleming scored 12 points, including a 3-pointer.
"Josh does what Josh does for us," Blevins said. "He draws our toughest defensive assignment every game. He’s a big, strong kid. He’s done anything that we’ve asked him to do from day one. You’ve got to have a guy like that.
"He’s fighting for minutes right now, and he was able to step up and make some big shots. He hit the 3 that tied the game with about 30 seconds to go. It was nice to see him have that opportunity and make the most of it."
Senior Kyle Mottice had 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
In the loss to the Hornets, Woodridge trailed 14-13 after the first quarter, 29-25 at the half and 41-36 after the third quarter.
"We were down 12 in the third quarter, but then our kids made a really strong comeback into the fourth quarter," said the coach. "We actually took the lead with about three minutes to go. Then Highland held a one- or two-point lead for a couple minutes.
"We actually turned them over down one inside a minute to go and had two chances at close shots but missed them both. And that basically turned into a five-point deficit once we had to put them on the foul line and they made their free throws."
Fleming scored 14 points, including two 3-pointers, and had four rebounds, two assists and five steals. Albright scored eight points and had three rebounds.
Decker returned to action despite not being 100 percent healthy. He had eight points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal.
"Josh showed a lot of guts and a lot of courage," Blevins said. "He played a lot of minutes, and I was proud of him for trying to push and make a difference for our team. It was good to see him back on the floor. It might be another week until he’s completely healthy, but he dug down deep and gave us great minutes."
Sophomore shooting guard Ben Kiser scored seven points, including a 3-pointer, and had four rebounds, three assists and a steal.
"We think a lot of Ben. He’s getting some valuable experience right now," said Blevins. "He doesn’t know where his limitations are yet, but that’s also a good thing sometimes. He’s been playing a ton of minutes for us, and he’s playing good minutes for us, so I’m pretty happy with the development he’s showing."
Senior point guard Nick Williams scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers, while Mottice connected on a single trey.
Woodridge is scheduled to take a 9-9 overall record and a 7-4 Metro mark into a home game against division rival Field Friday. The Bulldogs are set to host division foe Coventry Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.