PENINSULA — Ric Blevins knew the original was a total bust.
Thus, the seventh-year Woodridge head boys basketball coach had been looking forward to the sequel for more than a month.
While part two had far more box-office appeal, part two didn’t lead to another highly-acclaimed follow-up the Bulldogs coveted most.
A postseason sequel.
Seventh-seeded Woodridge lost to 10th-seeded Aurora 61-56 Tuesday on its home floor in Peninsula.
The Greenmen, who smashed the Bulldogs 77-47 in their own gymnasium Jan. 21, improved to 7-16 on the season. Woodridge finished 13-10.
While Blevins certainly was not satisfied with the result, he knew January’s stunning blowout was a complete aberration.
"We had a pretty rough night," Blevins said. "We were experiencing some things as a team. Without that night, I don’t think that we showed the improvement that we showed at the end of the year."
The much-anticipated sequel certainly didn’t prove him wrong. Let’s just say it was apples and oranges.
The momentum shifted several times in each team’s favor. In the end, Aurora, which led by as many as 11 late in the first half, took control in the fourth quarter.
The Greenmen outscored the Bulldogs 18-11 in the final eight minutes. Aurora also made its free throws. Well, Lenny Feckner sure did.
The standout senior forward converted 5-of-6 freebies in the final four minutes to seal the deal.
Feckner, who also made a free throw in the second period, finished with 15 points.
"This stings," Blevins said. "I thought we were a good enough basketball team to win. I still believe that. They did enough to beat us. We couldn’t answer the run they made in the fourth quarter."
Senior guard Ethan Hays scored a game-high 18 points for the Greenmen despite being face-guarded for much of the game. He buried three consecutive 3-pointers in less than 30 seconds to give Aurora a 32-21 lead late in the half.
However, the Bulldogs came back with a vengeance in the third quarter.
Woodridge outscored the Greenmen 19-11 in the period. An 8-0 spurt gave the Bulldogs (41-38) their first lead since the midway point of the first period.
Nevertheless, Aurora got the last laugh with a 14-0 run to take the lead for good (54-45) midway through the fourth.
"The shots we made in the third quarter that got us in position to have the lead just didn’t go down in the fourth quarter," Blevins said. "It was too late to revamp what we were doing at that point. We had kind of made our bed."
Junior guard Gabe Elsawy scored 10 points for the Greenmen and senior guard Jack Deptola finished with eight points.
Junior guard Josh Decker led the Bulldogs with 18 points and sophomore guard Ben Kiser and senior guard Brandon Albright added 10 and nine points, respectively, for Woodridge, which made missed 19 of its 24 3-points attempts.
"That has kind of been our Achilles heel all year," Blevins said. "When we shoot it well, we look amazing. If we don’t, we really struggle to score the basketball.
"We weren’t able to get to the basket. We played around the arc too much. It played into their hands."
Other seniors who played their last game for the Bulldogs were guards Nick Williams, Kyle Mottice, Joshua Fleming and Andrew Mekeal and forward Ben Lahoski.
"We didn’t play our best game by any means," Blevins said, "but we played hard. It doesn’t happen every year that your kids are playing their best basketball at exactly the right time. Coming into this, we were."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_Gannett.