The Hudson Explorers got one step closer to clinching an outright Northeast Ohio Conference title after beating host Twinsburg 71-48 Friday night.
Though their records would suggest an evenly matched game, it was all Hudson from the opening tip.
The Explorers (16-4, 7-2 NOC-River) began the game with a 10-2 run and finished the first quarter ahead 14-6.
Senior guard Steven Boslet continued the attack, scoring the first eight points of the second quarter on the strength of two 3-point shots.
Boslet finished with 14 points, six rebounds and a steal.
Trailing 27-14 at halftime, things only got worse for the Tigers (14-5, 6-3).
Hudson started the second half on an 11-1 run before Twinsburg coach Bob Pacsi was called for a technical foul.
“There was a touch foul called on one of my players on the other end, then a no-call on our end,” Pacsi said. “I guess he didn’t like the way I asked him. That was my first technical in about 10 years.”
The Tigers ended the third quarter having scored only 21 points, and the majority of their scoring came in the late stages of the fourth quarter when the game’s outcome was decided.
“We let our inability to create open shots and score affect our defense and a lot of phases of our game,” Pacsi said.
Senior guard Jalen Washington led the Tigers with 24 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. He also had two rebounds and two steals.
Hudson senior guard Zack Brandy played well at both ends of the court and paced the Explorers with 24 points. He added six rebounds and a steal.
“I think Zack is one of the best players in Northeast Ohio,” Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. “He faces box-and-ones, triangle-and-twos and double teams on a nightly basis. And we ask him to handle the ball, score for us and rebound and he does all of that consistently.”
Brandy also set the Explorers’ all-time record for 3-pointers after making two in the third quarter.
His 104 3-pointers puts him ahead of former standout Mike Freedman’s 103.
“It’s a good accomplishment, but I couldn’t do it without the guys in that locker room,” Brandy said. “They have faith with the ball in my hands and I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be around.”
The Explorers have played the past eight games without one of their best players, senior forward Ben Gedeon.
Gedeon injured his shoulder in a game against Solon on Jan. 18. He hopes to return before next Friday’s league finale.
“All year we’ve been battling adversity,” Brink said. “At the beginning of the year, Cuyahoga Falls was the favorite, Brush got off to a great start, and Twinsburg has been awesome all year.
“We’ve kind of flown under the radar. Then we lose Ben, but we’ve continued to scrap and find ways to win.”
With the victory, the Explorers clinched at least a share of the NOC-River title after Brush lost to Stow on Friday night. Hudson will host Solon in their final conference game of the season next Friday with a chance to clinch the outright title.
“Our kids realize what’s at stake,” Brink said. “We had one goal at the start of the year — win the league. Now we have a chance to do that on our home floor against an arch rival. What more can you ask for?”
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.