by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Twinsburg -- The Hudson boys basketball had trouble getting started in the first seven games.
The Explorers were outscored in the opening period five of seven times and a 4-3 record was the result. In two of those contests the opposition came out on fire and Hudson could never fully recover.
The Twinsburg Tigers seemed ready to repeat history when they got out of the gates fast against the Explorers in a Suburban League National Conference contest Jan. 5 in Twinsburg.
The Tigers made their first three shots and 5-of-7, including a 4-of-5 effort on 3-pointers in the opening minutes.
But Hudson had too much firepower and height. The Explorers ended up pulling away to a 68-50 victory. The loss dropped Twinsburg to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the National Conference, while the Explorers improved to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
Hudson recovered this time from the opponents' quick start by shooting the ball well, taking care of the ball and using its huge height advantage to its fullest.
The Explorers had a six-inch height advantage per man on the inside with seniors Isaac MacGillis (6 feet, 9 inches) and 6-7 David O'Connor (6-7) starting against Tigers seniors Gary Heath (6-3) and 6-1 Michael Sims (6-1).
"Just looking at them [the Explorers], you can see that they are way bigger than us," Twinsburg first-year head coach Phil Schmook said. "They are faster than us. They are better skilled than us, but I thought we competed very well."MacGillis hit for a season high 21 points and led Hudson to a 32-21 advantage on the boards with 12. O'Connor chipped in 7 points and found teammates for a handful of assists.
Meanwhile, 5-10 senior Zack Meder didn't let the Tigers sag inside as he swished 5 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 25 points.
"One of our objectives was to try to get our big guys involved," Explorers head coach Jeff Brink said. "Isaac was much more active on the offensive end without the ball. His off-the-ball play was definitely a key to the game.
"He had a couple great cuts to the basket. We found the open player on some slips out of traps and we were able to convert some easy scores."
Twinsburg jumped out to a 6-1 lead as Jalen Tucker (5 points) and Michael Moore (8 points) each converted three-pointers just 32 seconds apart.
Meanwhile, Hudson's offense heated up as well with MacGillis and Meder each hitting from downtown. The Explorers ran off 12 unanswered points and forced three straight turnovers in the middle of that run to take a 16-8 advantage.
Meder closed out the period with two triples to give Hudson a 24-14 lead. The Explorers did not convert a single turnover and were 9-of-13 from the floor in the first eight minutes.
Meder made 5-of-8 3-pointers and 6-of-7 shots from the foul line.
"Even in the games when they are double- and triple-teaming, Zack still gets 20," Brink said.
Hudson pushed the lead to 33-16 midway through the second quarter when the Tigers made a push. Leroy Fitzgerald and Mark Foust nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to start an 11-3 spurt that cut the deficit to single digits at 36-27.
Every run Twinsburg made, Hudson had an answer.
The lead was cut to seven (45-38) midway through the third, but it went back to 54-42 after three.
Tigers' freshman Ryan Felberg's trey to start the fourth quarter made it a single-digit difference again 54-45, but the Explorers pulled away with a 9-0 spurt on buckets by Alex Beck (8 points), MacGillis, O'Connor and Meder. Meder converted a three-point play in the paint for a comfortable 63-45 advantage with 4:19 to go.
Heath led Twinsburg with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. The Tigers converted 9-of-23 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
"They [the Tigers] shot the ball extremely well," Brink said. "One thing we have done when teams come out shooting the lights out is we have battled back.
"Having gone through it before, it wasn't shell shock. We stayed focused and got some good looks for Meder. The guys did a really good job getting him the ball in scoring position.
"Dave O'Connor had six assists last week in the Streetsboro game and I said he is like Arvydas Sabonis [a former 7-3 NBA center]. But then I had to explain who he is.
"He is a little bit before their generation [having retired from the NBA 13 years ago]. Sabonis was a big guy who could pass the ball. Dave has great vision and he is so unselfish."
Hudson's junior varsity team improved to 5-3 overall with a 50-33 victory. William Wallace, Kevin McBride and Colton Paltani each had 8 points for the Explorers.
The varsity team was scheduled to host National Conference rival Wadsworth Jan. 8. Results were not available at press time.
Hudson is set to entertain Suburban League crossover foe Kent Roosevelt Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m.