GRANGER TOWNSHIP — Woodridge boys basketball came into its game at Highland Tuesday as hot as it had been all season, riding a five-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs needed every ounce of energy to get past a past a hot-shooting Hornet squad — but they got the job done.
Woodridge rallied from a 58-43 deficit early in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then win the game 81-79. The Bulldogs win steak reached six games as they improved to 12-4 on the season.
Prior to the Highland game, Woodridge scored a 60-51 home win over Streetsboro Friday to improver to 8-1 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division. The Bulldogs have a two-game lead in the Metro Division.
How crazy was the contest? Along with the wild lead changes, the two teams combined for 31 3-point baskets, 17 of which came from the Hornets.
"They shot the ball so well, especially in the third quarter," said Woodridge coach Ric Blevins. "We executed well down the stretch.
"I think we played well on defense and we gave up 79 points. Watching that game, you would think were were the two best shooting teams in the country."
"We’re capable of it," said Hornets coach Adam Cestaro. "We had some shots go in. That’s one of our higher 3-point totals for the season."
It was a game full of runs and Woodridge started well, opening the game on an 11-3 jaunt, which forced Cestaro to call timeout. D.J. Snyder hit a pair of 3s for the Bulldogs in the first quarter.
However, Highland hit four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes to stay within shouting distance at 22-14 after one quarter.
It was an omen of things to come. Woodridge pushed the lead to double digits early in the second quarter, but that’s when Hornet guard Alex Jaworski started to find his range.
Jaworski scored 12 of his career-high 28 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the first-half buzzer, which cut Woodridge’s lead to 34-31.
Jaworski hit six 3-pointers on his way to a career night.
"He shot it really well," Cestaro said. "I think they were over-guarding his driving early. We’ve told him to shoot it and he did."
The Hornets came out buzzing in the third quarter as the Bulldogs’ shooting went cold. Highland came out of the locker room on a 17-4 run.
When the dust settled in the third quarter, Highland had a 58-45 lead and all the momentum.
"We shot the ball poorly in the third quarter," Blevins said. "They went on a bit of run. You don’t come down from 15 points every day, We needed a lot of good shooting, a lot of defense and a lot of luck."
The Bulldogs got all three, as Woodridge erupted for an 18-2 run, which got the game back to a 63-63 tie with 2:03 left in regulation, thanks to a Snyder 3-pointer.
Snyder scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter.
"We just knew they had to cool off a bit," Snyder said. "They just started finding me,"
Highland found its footing and retook the lead, as a layup by Jaworski made ti 72-69 with 18.3 seconds left.
After two timeouts, however, Woodridge got the biggest shot of the night from sophomore forward Josh Decker.
With 7.7 seconds left, forward Elijah Arnett found Decker in the corner and Decker drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 72-72.
"We’ve been telling him to shoot the ball," said Bulldogs guard Michae Massey. "You saw that he traveled earlier, but we know that kid can shoot."
Highland’s last-second shot at the end of regulation was off the mark.
In overtime, Snyder hit a 3-pointer to open the period and Decker hit another huge 3 — this time to give Woodridge an 80-76 lead with 25 seconds left. Decker finished with 13 points
Highland’s Bryce Profitt answered with a 3-pointer to cut it to 80-79 before Snyder was fouled. He split two free throws to make it 81-79 with 10 seconds left.
Highland had one last chance to win it, but Massey blocked a 3-pointer from Highland’s Jake Osborne at the buzzer to seal the win.
"I saw one of my guys was gambling a bit to get the ball," Massey said "One of his guys came open. Luckily, I was able to get back there and block the shot."
Massey finished with 15 points for the Bulldogs, while Arnett finished with seven points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Chema had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets.
"For my guys, it was important to get this win," Blevins said. "We wanted to keep that winning streak going heading into a much-improved Cloverleaf team."
Against Streetsboro, Woodridge took a 28-18 lead at the half and held off a rally from the Rockets to get the win.
Massey led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Snyder and Decker added 15 points each.
Woodridge was set to host Cloverleaf Friday at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs will travel to Field Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. before hosting Coventry Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_RPC