Since Dave Close became the head basketball coach at Stow-Munroe Falls in 1988, the Bulldogs had beaten Hudson 33 out of 45 tries.

Stow also owned the edge at the newly named James G. Tyree Gymnasium, taking a 17 of the 23 meetings between the two Northeast Ohio Conference rivals at home

"They've always had our number, but this year we feel like it's our time to go in there and get a win,' Explorer senior guard Zack Brandy.

Unfortunately for Stow, he was right.

Hudson ended a four game slide against Stow taking a 45-28 decision Jan. 4 at Stow.

However, the Bulldogs rebounded Jan. 8 at home, as they pulled out a tight 47-44 win over Akron East at home.

Stow's record moved to 6-4, 1-2 in the River Division ahead of a trip to Brush Jan. 11 and a home game with Cleveland John Hay Jan. 12 (results weren't available at press time).

The win not only ended Stow's dominance over the Explorers but their advantage over Brandy as well.

The 6-0 senior, who has led Hudson in scoring for the past two and a half seasons and hit for double digits in 40 of 51 games since becoming a starter sophomore year, had not reached double figures in the previous four losses to Stow.

Brandy totaled just 28 points in those outings.

This time out, Brandy was able to shake loose from the always strong Bulldog defense hitting a game-high 26 points.

"Brandy had a great game. We didn't do a very good job on him but that's a credit to him and how he has developed himself as a basketball player. He is a nice player,' Close praised.

"To Zack's credit; he is one of those guys that every night has someone in his face playing physical. He just keeps coming, keeps coming and keeps working. He did a great job tonight,' seventh year Hudson mentor Jeff Brink praised.

Neither team was lighting up the scoreboard early. The Explorers hit just one of their first nine shots out of the gates and Stow made just one of their first six.

While the visitors were clanking shots off the rim they still managed to take an early lead thanks to seven offensive rebounds in the opening quarter. Three of Hudson's first four buckets came thanks to offensive rebounds.

Brandy's feed to Steve Boslet on a back-door cut with five seconds left in the first quarter gave Hudson the lead for good at 8-6 it too came after an Explorer offensive board.

"I thought we played decent defense for a while, but what hurt us early on was they got a lot of second shots in the first half,' Close said. "They had at least nine second chance points. We have done a decent job on the boards this year until today. That's something we've hung our hat on blocking out and being tough but today Hudson outworked us."

Hudson won the rebounding battle 33-21.

With just two points after the opening eight minutes Brandy began heating up in the second period. He hit two triples in the frame, but the Bulldogs stayed close with Jacob Williams' three late in the quarter bringing Stow within four at 15-11. Williams had 12 points for the game.

Hudson junior Kevin Zullo missed a three-ball but Boslet (four offensive rebounds for the game) snagged the carom and as time expired Zullo made good on his second chance tickling the twines at the buzzer for three and a 20-11 halftime bulge.

The Bulldogs ended 11-38 (28.9 percent) from the floor. Hudson was 18-47 (38.3 percent).

"We missed shots," Close said. "Against the zone, you get open shots and you've got to knock them down. We didn't shoot it well; we didn't make open shots today and the lead crept out there into double figures kind of early and we just couldn't get over the hump."

Brandy's five fourth quarter points and classmate Alex Mushock (eight rebounds) had six of his eight points in the final frame. The Bulldogs' Matt Beech hit a pair of threes and Bryan Ritchie grabbed five of his eight boards on the night in the fourth quarter to keep the hosts fading hopes alive. Beech ended with 12 points.

In the win over the Dragons, Stow trailed 39-31 heading into the final quarter, only to outscore East 16-5 in the final eight minutes.

Stow took advantage of a big edge in free throws, as the Bulldogs went 16-of-19 from the line, compared to 4-of-5 for East.

Beech led the Bulldogs with 17 points, while Mike Zavodnik had 16, including four three pointers, and Williams had 10.

Derik Lewis had 17 points and Demetrius Ray had 12 to lead the Dragons.

Stow will return to action Jan. 18 at River Division foe Twinsburg. Varsity tip time is set for Jan. 18.


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