PENINSULA — The Bulldogs had a puzzling first quarter Tuesday with missed 3-pointers and layups aplenty.
Woodridge shook off that slow start to land one of its best wins, handing Crestwood just its third loss of the season, 64-57.
The Bulldogs (12-9) have had slow starts before and sometimes a tough eight minutes have turned into a tough 32 minutes.
Down 20-10 early in the second quarter, Woodridge held the lead by halftime, thanks to a 21-5 run.
"We came out tight," Bulldogs coach Ric Blevins said. "We came out a little tentative and we do that with teams we're not familiar with. It's almost like my kids have to play five or six minutes and figure out, ‘OK, they're not the Lakers, we can play with these guys,’ and then we kind of settled in."
That ability to bounce back and beat a talented Crestwood team was a good sign as Woodridge opens up tournament play a week from Tuesday against Aurora, seeking revenge for a 30-point loss on Jan. 21.
"We’re going to have to play with that type of intensity," Blevins said. "We played Aurora a month ago and they just destroyed us, but we played completely lackluster. We played with no physicality at all, and like we've kind of told our kids, there’s not many times in life you're going to get a do-over and we're getting one here."
Tuesday could also pay off for Crestwood (18-3), which hosts Garfield Friday night with a Portage Trail Conference County Division championship on the line.
The Bulldogs’ length and physicality and the scoreless skids that ensued troubled the Red Devils Tuesday, but perhaps a Tuesday test in Peninsula isn’t the worst thing heading into a big Friday in Mantua.
"Our kids battled," Crestwood coach Josh Jakacki said. "I thought we were resilient in that regard, but we've got to get back in the lab tomorrow and continue to grind and find ways to manufacture a little bit easier buckets instead of going to that one-on-one element that we went to tonight."
Tuesday’s game turned quickly.
After a quarter, the Red Devils led 18-9, fueled by 12 points from senior forward Mason Angle, who led all scorers Tuesday with 24. His opening stanza included a pair of 3-pointers, one in which he didn’t appear to be looking at the basket, then turned and fired, and a couple of short jumpers over defenders that were right on him.
His twin brother, senior forward Blaze Angle (20 points, 9-of-11 from the field), added a putback to lead 20-10.
The Bulldogs were just 3-of-12 from the field at that point and 0-of-5 from deep. A couple of turnovers to open the second stanza put them at six on the night.
And then they caught fire.
Sophomore guard Ben Kiser snapped Woodridge’s 0-for streak from deep with a corner 3-pointer, then tipped a Crestwood entry pass to himself and took off down the court for a fast-break layup to draw within 20-15.
Twice, Red Devils senior guard Mason Jakacki did all he could to disrupt the run.
His mid-range jumper pushed their lead back to 22-15, but the Bulldogs followed with seven straight points to tie the score.
Again, Jakacki answered — with a 3-pointer from way back for a 25-22 lead.
Again, Woodridge took control — including a slick jumper from Josh Decker, who spun off his defender and drained a fadeaway from just off the free-throw line to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the night.
Up 26-25, they added to their newfound lead as senior guard Kyle Mottice sent a baseline inbound to sophomore forward Christian Everly as he cut toward the bucket for a layup. Following a Red Devils turnover, the Bulldogs were off and running as Mottice found Decker for a layup and a 31-25 lead.
"We stopped making shots," Josh Jakacki said. "They got to the free-throw line, they were a little bit more aggressive than us, we started shooting some shots that we're really not accustomed to and then they were using those like turnovers and getting some runs on us."
To Crestwood’s credit, just like Woodridge didn’t let a bad first quarter derail it, the Red Devils fought back after a 21-5 run in the Bulldogs’ favor.
Mason Angle added a bucket just before the half to draw within four and Blaze Angle took an entry pass in the high post for a short turnaround jumper to cut within two on Crestwood’s first possession of the second half.
Mason Jakacki found Blaze Angle down the court for a fast-break layup to tie the score at 31, and after a Brandon Albright 3 put Woodridge back in front, Mason Angle slung a pass to Mason Jakacki in the corner to tie the score at 34.
By this point, the Bulldogs, so cold from deep to start, were firing on all cylinders. After an 0-of-5 first quarter from beyond the arc, they went 7-of-14 the rest of the way, including 3-of-5 in the final stanza.
With the score knotted at 45, Mottice’s second 3 gave the Bulldogs the lead, as 45 seconds into the fourth quarter, he tossed an entry pass to Josh Fleming, who fired back to Mottice in the corner for an open look. Up 48-47, Decker glided his way to a spot-up 3, his lone 3 of the night but a big one to take a four-point lead.
With their lead down to 55-52 with three minutes to go, Decker, who led the Bulldogs with 15 points, took a sideline inbound by their bench and found Kiser (13 points, 3-of-3 from deep) in the corner for an open 3.
"Trent (Jakacki) was guarding the ball and someone's man went to the corner and never went with him and then Trent was kind of put on an island there trying to decide," Jakacki said. "We didn't cover it and they hit the three to get us down six and that was the dagger there."
Crestwood rallied back within three (60-57) but no closer as Decker and Mottice each sunk a pair from the line.
"We knew they were going to make a couple runs at us, but I thought our kids did a really good job of finishing out the game," Blevins said. "We made a couple of really, really poor decisions in the last minute and a half, but other than that, stepping up making free throws and putting the game away, that's what you're supposed to do."