by Rob Barrone | Correspondent

Hudson -- The Hudson boys basketball team wanted to get off to a fast start against a conference opponent.

Mission accomplished.

The Explorers improved to 12-4 overall and 7-3 in the Suburban League National Conference after posting a lopsided 68-44 victory over Cuyahoga Falls Jan. 29 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.

Hudson, which won its fifth straight game, made its first eight shots and jumped out to a 20-4 first-quarter lead. The Explorers didn't look back the rest of the way.

"They [the Explorers] shot the ball really well," Black Tigers head coach Kenny Johnson said. "I don't know what they started from the floor. A couple of those were our fault with defensive breakdowns.

"It was little bit of defensive breakdown but if you leave kids open in high school, they don't make eight out of eight. I give Hudson a ton of credit for stepping out and making shots."

The Explorers missed one shot in the opening quarter to take a 24-7 advantage.

Seniors Zack Meder and Isaac MacGillis and junior Alex Beck did all of the scoring in the first period. Beck had 10 points and Meder and MacGillis scored seven points apiece. Beck finished with 12 points and Meder had a team-high 16 points.

"We wanted to get Alex [Beck] involved early," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "He had a huge first quarter. Our kids executed well, made good decisions, got open shots and were able to bury them."

While all five Hudson starters got involved in the offense with assists and/or buckets, all five picked up one foul in the opening quarter as another theme began to develop for the Explorers: foul trouble.

Hudson's top two scorers, Meder (20 points per game) and MacGillis (13) points per game each picked up their second foul in the second quarter and went to the bench.

Meder sat all but 46 seconds of the second quarter and the 6-foot-9 MacGillis, who finished with 11 points, missed the final 2:50.

"It was unfortunate we got into foul trouble, but it's part of the game," Brink said. "I think adversity is often opportunity. For us it was an opportunity to see what some of our younger guys can do."

Fortunately, the Explorers' bench came to the rescue.

The reserves scored 22 points, including a career-high 14 from Spencer McClure.

"The difference was our bench," Brink said. "Spencer McClure played great basketball and Ryan Martin was fantastic off the bench. Our bench scored 22 points. That is phenomenal for a high school game. I was thrilled with our bench."

Despite getting many tripes to the charity stripe, Falls (6-9, 2-8) had lots of trouble converting. The Black Tigers made just 15-of-27 shots from the free throw line.

Nonetheless, Falls managed to stay close thanks to its press. The Black Tigers outscored Hudson 28-25 in the middle two quarters.

However, the Explorers had a 49-35 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.

"Hudson is a really good team," Johnson said. "It's hard when you get behind against them because it's hard to score. When your down by 10, it feels like 20. They don't give you easy baskets. You have to earn everything you get."

Falls' comeback ran out of steam in the fourth quarter.

The Black Tigers missed 9-of-11 shots from the floor and 4-of-8 shot from the line. D'Vontay Friga led Falls with 14 points. All told, he Explorers made 9-of-15 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

"You have to give their kids credit," Brinks said. "They scrapped and played hard. They got down big and fought their way out. Coach Johnson has them playing hard and that's what you want to do heading into the tournament. That's what we are building for."

Hudson's junior varsity team improved to 10-6 overall and 5-5 in the conference with a commanding 48-26 win. Davey Spitz led the way with 11 points.

The freshman squad improved to 15-0 with a lopsided 48-23 victory. Will Jackson had 8 points for the Explorers.

Hudson was scheduled to entertain East Cleveland Shaw Feb. 2. Results were not available at press time.

The Explorers are set to host National Conference foe Stow-Munroe Falls Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

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