by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- The first one ended with an instant classic, but the fourth annual Hudson Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament, which took place Dec. 29 and 30 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium, proved to be another success.
There was no overtime championship contest, as there was three years earlier when Medina edged out the host Explorers 63-62 in overtime.
But each of the four participating schools, Boardman, Hudson, Bainbridge Township Kenston and Streetsboro, recorded a victory at either the varsity or junior varsity level in the two-day affair.
The Explorers varsity team had to settle for being the runner-up after losing to the Bombers 78-69 in the championship game Dec. 30.
In the consolation final, the Spartans defeated the Rockets 46-40.
Boardman won the JV title with a 50-43 win over Hudson and the Rockets' JV squad took third with a 45-40 victory over the Bombers.
The Explorers' freshmen team defeated Streetsboro 54-40 to open the tournament Dec. 29.
The win kept Hudson's freshman team unbeaten at 6-0.
With the win in the varsity championship game, Kenston (5-4) became the first two-time winner of the tournament trophy. Medina won in 2012, Kenston in 2013 and Hudson triumphed last year.
The Bombers came out of the gates fast, making their first four shots and six of their first seven to take a big lead early.
Kenston drilled its first three 3-point shots and put back its lone missed shot in the opening minutes to grab a 15-5 lead just 3 minutes, 42 seconds into the game.
The Explorers (4-3) spent the rest of the night trying to catchup.
"Obviously, Kenston's hard start put us behind the eight-ball, but to our kids' credit, we did a good job fighting out of the deficit without panicking," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said.
"We chipped away and at several times, we had it within striking distance [four points down at 22-18 and 42-38], but their [the Bombers'] execution in the delay and making free throws was clutch down the stretch."
The Explorers matched Kenston in nearly every statistical category except one: free throws. The Bombers closed out strong, making 18-of-22 from the stripe in the final 6:35 and 22-of-26 for the game.
Meanwhile, Hudson converted just 6-of-11 foul shots on the night and missed the front end of two one and ones.
Guard C.J. Maynard also played a major factor in Kenston's win. He scored a tournament record 29 points and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"We knew Maynard is a really good player," Brink said. "We played against him the last couple years, so it did not shock us what he was able to do. We went after him and put a lot of pressure on him as the game went on and he continued to make plays. [Josh] Kain [guard] had a nice game."
Maynard hit a deep 3 as the first-period buzzer sounded to give the Bombers a 22-10 lead.
Hudson roared back to start the second quarter.
Davey Spitz started an 8-0 run with a three from the right corner just 12 seconds into the stanza. MacGillis added a putback his own miss and Zack Meder split a pair at the stripe and then drove for two more of his team-high 23 points to cut the Explorers' deficit to 22-18.
But Kenston regrouped and its advantage was back up to eight (33-25) at halftime.
Spitz, who had a career-high 10 points for the game on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-3 on 3s, buried his second trey and Alex Beck hit back-to-back triples 35 seconds apart later in the third quarter.
A Meder layup after Beck's bombs made the score 42-38, but the Bombers responded with a 6-0 spurt and led 48-40 after three.
Any hopes of completing the comeback were thwarted by Maynard, who converted 10-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter and 11-of-13 for the game.
Meder scored 11 points in the final eight minutes and Jackson Parker had six of his 9 points in the fourth, but Kenston put the game away at the charity stripe.
"We did a much better job in the second half," Brink said. "We felt the whole night we were swimming upstream. We were always fighting the current. The effort was great at the end."
Maynard scored 42 points in the two tournament games. Kain also was named to the all-tournament team along with Meder and MacGillis. Also making the team were Streetsboro's Jerry Judd and Boardman's Gannon Murray and Holden Lipke. Murray was the only player to score more than 20 points in both games.
In the JV championship, Kevin McBride led Hudson with 17 points. Evan Jones added 13 points for the Explorers.
Hudson's varsity team was scheduled to visit Suburban League National Conference rival Twinsburg Jan. 5. Results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to entertain National Conference foe Wadsworth Jan. 8 at 7:30 p.m.