Snyder leads Woodridge boys hoops past backyard rival CVCA in opener

·4 min read
Woodridge's Esseck Bryant attempts to go up for two as a found is called on CVCA's Brennan Darr during the third period of their game at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.
Woodridge's Esseck Bryant attempts to go up for two as a found is called on CVCA's Brennan Darr during the third period of their game at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.

Owen Snyder did not play last season for the Woodridge boys basketball team, but the junior shooting guard made the most of his opportunity Nov. 30 in the Bulldogs’ come-from-behind 44-41 season-opening victory at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.

Snyder came through in the clutch by hitting seven of eight free throw attempts down the stretch to help erase a sizable deficit.

“Owen was the guy who had the ball in his hands and got fouled down the stretch. He stepped up and did a nice job for us,” Woodridge head coach Ric Blevins said.

Snyder’s heroics at the free throw line helped his team to the eventual winning three-point margin with about five seconds to go in the game.

“Fortunately, CVCA’s heave from three-quarter court did not go in at the buzzer,” said Blevins.

Woodridge's Benjamin Kiser goes up for two points over CVCA's Brennan Darr during the fourth period of their game at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.
Woodridge's Benjamin Kiser goes up for two points over CVCA's Brennan Darr during the fourth period of their game at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.

The game was pretty close throughout the evening. Woodridge trailed 11-10 after one quarter, led 20-17 at halftime and then was down 35-28 after three quarters. The Bulldogs struggled offensively for most of the game.

“We just didn’t do a very good job on that end of the floor,” Blevins said. “We didn’t create any easy opportunities, we had to kind of grind out every possession. We just didn’t take good shots. It’s the beginning of the season, and I’m not afraid to say that we’re not as prepared as we’d like to be right now going into games.

“Fortunately, we were able to chip away at CVCA’s lead inside four minutes to go in the game and got into the bonus, and that was our savior.”

The coach was relatively happy with his team’s defensive performance.

“I thought we rebounded the ball pretty well at times,” he said. “We threw some stuff to get CVCA off balance right away, but we probably stayed with it a little bit too long. In the half court defensively, though, I thought we were pretty decent.”

CVCA's Brennan Darr goes up for two points against Woodridge during the first period of their game at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.
CVCA's Brennan Darr goes up for two points against Woodridge during the first period of their game at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.

Leading the way for Woodridge was 6-foot-7 senior power forward Esseck Bryant, who scored 14 points.

“Esseck scored some points for us in the first half, hit some jump shots and got some easy baskets around the basket,” said Blevins. “He did a decent job for us. We still need him to rebound a little bit more and be more of a presence, but he’s definitely trending in the right direction.”

Junior power forward Gerelle King and sophomore small forward Evan Duve were big contributors, too. King scored four points, and Duve scored five points and had eight rebounds.

“I thought Gerelle did a nice job for us,” Blevins said. “He’s a big, strong kid and is willing to bang in the paint a little bit.

“Evan is coming off of an injury right now, so he was limited minute-wise, but he did play hard for us. We definitely become a much slower basketball team when he’s not on the floor, so it was nice to have him out there.

“We needed some athletic kids to make some athletic plays to win, and thankfully we had a couple of them come through.”

Two seniors who are still trying to find their way are guard Deon Horn and point guard Ben Kiser. Horn scored six points and Kiser chipped in four points.

CVCA's Jackson Shelby goes up for two points during the second period of their game against Woodridge at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.
CVCA's Jackson Shelby goes up for two points during the second period of their game against Woodridge at CVCA in Cuyahoga Falls.

“Deon is still trying to figure out where he fits in with us, but there’s not doubt that he can play,” said Blevins. “We just have to figure out how to make what he does well fit within the structure of what we’re trying to do as a group.

“Ben tried to do too much. He has to relax and let the game come to him. He’s a good player and is going to have a great season. He’s just kind of forcing things right now. He needs to slow down. Once he does that and gets back to running our offense the way I know he can, everything is going to make a little more sense for him.”

Blevins was happy his team pulled out the victory.

“We have a lot to learn, we’ve got a lot to get better from,” he said. “It’s a whole lot easier teaching on Wednesday when you win on Tuesday night. We’re thankful for the win. Honestly, that game was one of those games that, if you played it 50 times, you’d lose it 25 times. We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.”

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Snyder leads Woodridge boys hoops past backyard rival CVCA in opener

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