As head coach Brian Fantone put it, "the light bulb finally went on" for the red-hot Woodridge High boys basketball team.
Thanks to some sizzling shooting and huge game in the paint by senior center Ray Mathews, the host Bulldogs beat Revere 66-58 in a non-league contest on Jan. 15 to capture the team's fifth straight win.
Starting the winter with five consecutive losses, the Bulldogs have won five straight to reach 5-5 overall as the team is gaining confidence, surging in league play, and gaining respect for the upcoming post season seed meetings.
It was easy as a spirited Revere squad (1-10) was the team surging in the first half -- to a 39-28 halftime lead. It was the Minutemen's season-high for points in a half, but Woodridge shot 54 percent from the field and held Revere to only 19 second half points.
"I challenged the kids at the half and they really responded," said Fantone.
"Revere is not as bad as their record would indicate and our guys responded," he added. "He had some great defensive stops in the second half we rode the kids with the hot hands."
One of those hot hands was the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Mathews, who was a force. Mathews posted career highs of 15 points and nine rebounds. Mathews also blocked two shots.
Fantone wants to improve on his team's 19 turnovers, but loved the scoring balance.
Senior guard Sean McCoy scored 14 points and had two steals and two assists while senior point guard Nelson Perry netted 14 points, dished out four assists and had three thefts.
Forward Anthony Mong also shined as the senior had 11 points and six boards while senior wing Chico Coleman had 10 points and five rebounds. Senior post Hunter Niswander added a hoop.
Revere was led by Dezmond Rozek's 13 points and Mike Benson 11 points and nine boards.
It was a crucial win for the Bulldogs as Revere is in the same Stow Division II post season district as the Bulldogs.
As for the Portage Trail Conference, Woodridge won its fourth straight league game -- 64-27 over Waterloo (1-9, 1-6) on Jan. 12 to move to 4-3 in the PTC County Division.
Woodridge hosted league-leading Windham (11-1, 7-0) Jan. 18, but final results weren't available as of press time.
Coleman led the charge against Waterloo with 11 points, followed by Perry with 10, junior John Harry had eight, junior Armad Richey-Conrad six, senior Alex Barracato five, Niswander five, and McCoy had five.
The Bulldogs host Independence Jan. 22 in non-league action and play at Ravenna Southeast Jan. 25 in PTC play.