Woodridge boys basketball grinds out win over Alliance in opener

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Woodridge senior Josh Decker puts up a layup during the Bulldogs' 69-60 home win over Alliance Dec. 1. Decker led all scorers witj 24 points.

The Woodridge boys basketball team looked well on its way to a win at home against Alliance Dec. 1 in its season opener.

The Bulldogs, though, just could not shake the Aviators away but came out with a solid 69-60 victory.

Woodridge led 20-16 after one quarter, 40-37 at halftime and 57-53 after three quarters, but the telltale signs occurred within the final three quarters.

“In the second quarter, we got up on Alliance by about 10 points but just kind of threw that lead away,” Bulldogs head coach Ric Blevins said. “Then, we were up 13 points in the third quarter but let that lead get away too. We just couldn’t push them over the edge.

“In the fourth quarter our inexperience showed up a little bit, and we kind of let Alliance hang around instead of being able to put them away. But the last couple minutes we did a nice job of keeping them from scoring while starting to eat some clock, so I was pretty pleased with how we finished it. We didn’t play our best basketball game, but we didn’t play poorly. We played well enough to win.”

Leading the way for Woodridge was senior shooting guard Josh Decker, who scored 24 points, including four three-pointers. He also had eight rebounds.

“Josh just played a really solid all-around game,” said Blevins. “I thought he was pretty decent on the defensive end of the floor, and he rebounded well for us too. We know he can shoot the basketball, but that can’t be the only place that he helps us. And he certainly helped us in other areas along with shooting the ball really well.”

Other key contributors to the Woodridge attack were senior small forward James Werts, junior power forward Esseck Bryant and junior point guard Ben Kiser.

Werts scored nine points, including a three-pointer, Bryant had eight points and Kiser put up seven points, including a three-pointer.

“James can be really good for us,” Blevins said. “He’s just got to be a little more aggressive when he’s going to the basket, be willing to accept contact and go through contact. He’s a guy who we’re going to lean on really heavily this year, so I expect big things from him.

“Esseck did a nice job. He’s a guy who didn’t even start for the JV team last year, so he’s definitely a project for us and he’s been working to get better, and it’s starting to show. He’s getting an opportunity to play. We’re a little short-handed on the front line, and he’s a very long kid. I thought he did great things with the minutes he got.

“Ben provides toughness, he provides leadership, he’s very unselfish with the basketball. He’s a guy who should be a shooting guard, but he’s transformed into a point guard because we need him to be. You can’t say enough about guys like him. He’s a competitor and he wants to win. He will truly do anything to win.”

Also for Woodridge, senior shooting guard Owen Thompson and junior shooting guard Will Duve each scored six points. Duve’s points came on a pair of three-pointers.

Senior shooting guard Isaiah Mitchell had five points, and freshman small forward Evan Duve, Will’s brother, had four points.

Woodridge was scheduled to open Metro Athletic Conference play at Field Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs are set to host MAC rival Coventry Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.