High school basketball / Streetsboro 62, Woodridge 54: Rockets rally in second half for win
PENINSULA — The Streetsboro boys basketball team came into the final week of the regular season knowing it controlled its own destiny regarding the Metro Athletic Conference title.
To do so, however, the Rockets needed to win out in a four-games-in-five-days stretch. It's the second consecutive week Streetsboro endured such a schedule.
The first hurdle in that run was a snowy trip to Woodridge, which has shown itself capable of beating anyone in the MAC.
Through one half, the Bulldogs had the game under control. Then, the Rockets did what Rockets do, they blasted off.
A 13-0 run to start the second half allowed the Rockets to take command, and Streetsboro finished with a 62-54 win Tuesday night.
Streetsboro (10-2, 10-1 in the MAC) got big lifts from guards Zamar Harris and Deven Reece in the second half, though coach Nick Marcini said defense was the key.
"You've got to be able to get stops," Marcini said. "You've got to be able to rebound the ball. If you get stops, you're able to get out in transition and that's probably where we play our best ball."
Woodridge coach Ric Blevins said the Bulldogs (9-6, 7-5) wilted a bit under the Rockets' pressure.
"They came out of halftime ready to play and obviously we did not, so my halftime speech was one for the garbage can," Blevins said. "I thought our intensity dropped off in the second half. It's always a physical game with Streetsboro and that's not us. We just don't play very tough."
Woodridge was playing tough early in the game.
Two 3-pointers from Will Duve and some steady play from Bulldogs senior Josh Decker allowed Woodridge to take a 15-12 lead after one quarter.
As usual, Decker was the focus of the Bulldogs' offense. In the second quarter, he showed off a nice fadeaway jump shot, and finished with 13 of his team-high 15 points in the first half.
"Decker was hitting his shots," Marcini said. "He's one of the best players in the league. Coline [Boldin] got in a little foul trouble, so he couldn't guard him. I was hoping halftime would cool him off a bit."
That's exactly what happened. Decker scored only two points after the half.
"I don't know if we rode him too hard or what," Blevins said. "Josh wasn't able to get anything going in the second half. We weren't able to get anything going."
Woodridge was able to keep Harris in check in the first half by going to a box-and-1 defense.
"We decided we didn't want Harris to beat us," Blevins said. "We paid him a little more attention in the first half."
But with Streetsboro behind 29-24 at the half, it was Harris who sparked the 13-0 run, opening the second half with two 3-pointers.
Harris scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter, leading the Rockets to a 37-29 lead.
Woodridge managed only seven points in the third quarter and found themselves behind 41-36.
The Bulldogs had one more push in them when junior Ben Kiser gave them a lift off the bench.
Kiser was the impetus for a 10-4 Bulldogs run to start the fourth quarter. That run culminated with a steal and layup to give Woodridge a 46-45 lead.
But in the last five minutes, Streetsboro went back to Reese on offense and the junior was unstoppable.
Getting rebounds and slashing to the basket, Reese put up 16 points in the final quarter, including converting two old-school three-point plays.
Reece finished with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds. He also had an excellent night at the free-throw line, going 9-of-10, including 6-of-6 in the fourth quarter.
"He's that kind of player that can come through in big moments," Marcini said. "We went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. That's how you win ballgames."
Streetsboro finished 16-of-20 from the line to 12-of-17 for Woodridge.
Reese's outburst had the Rockets ahead by as many as 11 before Marcini emptied his bench.
Kiser and Duve each finished with nine points for Woodridge.