Woodridge boys cagers survive Aurora

By Colin Harris | Staff writer Published:

The last thing you want to do when you're on the road is give the home team hope.

Aurora did that twice Feb. 12 and it would come back to bite the Greenmen to the tune of a 64-54 loss to the Woodridge boys basketball in Peninsula.

Woodridge survived two long runs by Aurora -- including a 13-4 start to the game -- before its defensive pressure and solid rebounding came together for the win.

Woodridge improved to 8-9 with the win.

After a Ben Branscom bucket with 4:29 left in the first quarter put the Greenmen ahead 13-4, Woodridge responded with a 12-2 run to end the period and give the Bulldogs a 15-14 lead.

Anthony Mong (four points) and Nelson Perry (five) led the rally for the Bulldogs.

Woodridge head coach Brian Fantone said his team began to adjust to Aurora's hot start.

"We came out thinking we could play in a zone against Aurora and that wasn't working," Fantone said. "So, we decided to switch to man-to-man because that's what we do best and we had a lot of success with it."

Fantone's switch was the right call as Woodridge forced four turnovers during its first quarter run -- and 20 turnovers in the game.

Headed into the third quarter trailing 27-26, Aurora (1-20) started the second half with another hot run.

The Greenmen scored the first eight points of the half as four different Aurora players got on the board -- including a mid-court steal and transition layup by guard Drew Daff -- Woodridge's lead turned into a 34-27 deficit.

Mong scored a bucket to end Woodridge's drought and cut Aurora's lead to 34-29, but Ben Branscom responded with a three to push Aurora's lead back out to eight points with 4:45 remaining in the third.

It was also about that time where Aurora's offense went cold.

Much like the first quarter, Woodridge ended the third with another long run -- this time, a 9-1 rally that tied the game at 38-38 as the period ended.

Woodridge's momentum carried into the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run that pushed its lead out to 48-38.

Bulldogs forward Chico Coleman flexed his muscle during the fourth, scoring eight points -- including three second-chance buckets that came off of his own offensive rebound.

Aurora knocked down five points in the fourth quarter on foul shots, but it wasn't until the 1:53 mark of regulation before the Greenmen recorded a field goal -- a cold streak that lasted nearly 10 minutes.

By that point, Aurora found itself down by nine points as the game was rapidly slipping away.

Fantone said that he was pleased with the way his defense performed down the stretch.

Woodridge was led offensively by Perry (16 points) and Sean McCoy, who led all scorers with 17 points. Coleman finished with 11 points to go along with five rebounds -- including four offensive boards.

Aurora was paced by Ben Branscom and Joey Dinardo, who each finished with 10 points.

Woodridge was set to host East Canton Feb. 15 and travel to Norwayne Feb. 16, but results were not available at press time.

The Bulldogs will play their final home game of the season Feb. 19 vs. Copley, before traveling for the regular season finale Feb. 22 at Waterloo.

Woodridge also was assigned its place Feb. 10 at the Division II district tournament draw at Stow-Munroe Falls High School. Given the No. 8 seed at Stow, Woodridge will open the postseason Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. at Stow against fifth-seeded Chagrin Falls. The winner of that game will face fourth seeded Notre Dame-Catheral Latin March 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Email: charris@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400

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