by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Twinsburg - Some of the stars have departed and the mystique isn't quite what it used to be.
Nevertheless, the Hudson girls basketball team is finally off the hook.
It's official: Twinsburg's dominance over the Lady Explorers is over.
Hudson earned a 69-56 victory over the Lady Tigers Dec. 7 at Twinsburg High School.
It was the Lady Explorers' first win over Twinsburg since 2006 and it ended a three-game losing streak.
It also was Hudson's first win against Twinsburg since it earned a 62-50 victory against the Lady Tigers Dec. 13, 2006.
The Lady Explorers improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division. Twinsburg, the Division I state runner-up last season after capturing the state championship the previous two seasons, fell to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the division.
With the loss to Hudson, the Lady Tigers' 60-game winning streak against Valley Division opponents came to an end.
The last time these two teams met, Twinsburg earned a come-from-behind 55-52 win over the Lady Explorers in the Ellet Division I district title game.
Unfortunately for the two proud teams, both squads are experiencing their share of growing pains thus far this season.
"Our approach is to get better," said Dennis Lawler, who earned his first win against the Lady Tigers as Hudson's head coach. "Twinsburg is not the same team they were and we just needed a win. It was just nice to get a win under our belts."
As for the opposing locker room, Twinsburg is in unchartered territory.
After years of dominance, thanks mainly to post player Malina Howard, who is now at the University of Maryland, and guard Ashley Morrissette, who is now at Purdue University (Ind.), Twinsburg has been struggling to find its niche.
The Lady Tigers had much difficulty with Hudson's pressure and it took more than six minutes for Twinsburg to score its first points of the fourth quarter.
Whenever the Lady Tigers made things interesting, the Lady Explorers turned it up another gear and left Twinsburg further in their rearview mirror.
"It was the story of the season," Twinsburg head coach Julie Solis said. "We make a run and then we do something wrong that leads to something bad. We need to go in another direction and give some other players a chance."
Hudson gained some separation on the scoreboard with a 10-3 run to close the first half. Guard Jackie Ulmer, who finished with a team-high 22 points, gave the Lady Explorers a 40-30 lead with a three-pointer in the corner with less than three seconds left.
Twinsburg cut its deficit to one (49-48) when guard Baleigh Reid, who made the free throw line her second home, knocked down two foul shots with 48.1 seconds left in the third quarter.
That was as close as the Lady Tigers got.
Guard Allison Baylor drained a jumper on the next possession to start a 16-0 run. Guard Margo Camp had a couple of steals during the spurt, which ultimately put Twinsburg away.
"I thought Margo played really well," Lawler said. "She has had two really nice games in a row for us. We played very well in the fourth quarter."
Hudson's 6-foot-3 center, Krissy Mummey, had 18 points on a variety of layups off post moves and short bank shots. Guard Ally Prosser added nine points for the Lady Explorers.
"Jackie and Krissy were their usuals selves and I thought Ally played her best game of the season," Lawler said.
Reid finished with 26 points and was 12 of 16 from the foul line for the Lady Tigers. Reid did most of her damage in the first three quarters despite being surrounded by Lady Explorers throughout the afternoon.
"Baleigh kept us in it the whole game," Solis said. "I have no problem with her trying to take over the game."
Forward Jaime Sanborn added nine points for Twinsburg, which finished with 30 turnovers. Hudson also had its ball-handling problems.
The Lady Explorers gave the ball away 33 times as both teams provided full-court pressure and traps throughout the game.
The Lady Tigers certainly lost much talent from last season, including two of their greatest players ever in Howard and Morrissette. But Solis won't make any excuses.
"It is a growing process, but I need to see some growth," she said.
Hudson also earned a 37-32 overtime win in the junior varsity contest.
Guard Megan Monsman led the Lady Explorers' JV squad, which has won three consecutive games after an 0-2 start, with 13 points.
Hudson is scheduled to visit Valley Division foe Mentor Dec. 14 before returning home to Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium to play Kent Roosevelt Dec. 16. Both varsity games are set to begin at 7:30 p.m.