HUDSON -- Spencer McClure was perfectly comfortable being out of the limelight.

However, when things started to get a little tense, the Hudson boys basketball team needed its senior point guard to take center stage.

Did he ever.

Thanks to McClure's breathtaking performance in the fourth quarter, the Explorers got to live another day.

Eighth-seeded Hudson improved to 9-14 on the season after posting a 69-56 victory over ninth-seeded Akron Firestone in a Copley Division I sectional semifinal contest March 1 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.

With the win, the Explorers earned a date with top-seeded Archbishop Hoban in a sectional title game, which was scheduled for March 4 in Akron. Results of that game were not available at press time.

For the most part, McClure played the role of distributor. He kept feeding the ball to his teammates in the post or dished out quick passes to open shooters behind the 3-point arc.

In fact, McClure had taken just four shots and scored a grand total of zero points when his team's double-digit lead shrunk to one (47-46) approximately two minutes into the fourth quarter.

But McClure was far more assertive the rest of the way. As a result, the Falcons (7-15) didn't have a chance.

The standout senior scored all of his game-high 18 points in the final six minutes of the game.

"My teammates kept finding me," McClure said. "I just felt more and more confident after every shot."

McClure, the team's leading scorer, has had several games where he had the hot hand.

But this sort of hot streak was something McClure or his teammates hadn't seen all season.

"Spencer is a guy who is capable of having big nights," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "We didn't get him that many touches because we wanted to work the ball inside.

"When the game got tight, we ran a couple of sets for him. Spencer is a very unselfish player."

McClure scored his first points when he converted a floater to give the Explorers a 49-46 lead.

That was just the beginning.

About a minute later, senior guard/forward Alex Beck found McClure on the left side of the court for a wide-open 3-pointer. McClure's shot hit nothing but net.

It turns out McClure had just about no time to reload his cannon.

In the blink of an eye, sophomore guard William Wallace stole Firestone's inbound pass and fired the ball to McClure for another wide-open 3 from the top of the key. Again, McClure found nothing but net.

In the time it takes for a person's heart to beat, Hudson's advantage went from three to nine (55-46) with 4 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game.

"It was exciting," McClure said. "When William stole the ball, the crowd went wild. He got it to me right in sync. I didn't think it was going in. Thank goodness it did."

After giving up six points in a matter of seconds, Firestone was forced to call a time-out. The Falcons didn't recover the rest of the way.

"William's steal was pivotal," Brink said. "That changed the course of the game. Of course, it would have been irrelevant if Spencer doesn't bang that three."

Even though the momentum was clearly in the Explorers' favor and Firestone was reeling, McClure didn't stop there.

He knocked down another 3 less than two minutes later to make it 58-46.

McClure added a difficult layup under duress, another layup after a steal and a 3-point play after grabbing an offensive rebound to conclude his unforgettable quarter.

By the way, McClure's 18-point quarter is the third highest scoring quarter in school history. His number of points actually outnumbered the Falcons' total amount of points (14) in the fourth period.

"We knew this was our last game at the Buck," McClure said. "We always say, 'Let's protect the Buck.'"

While McClure, who also had 7 assists, did most of the damage late, Hudson had plenty of people contribute in a plethora of ways. The Explorers' three post players, 6-foot-5 freshman Jack Burdett and 6-4 seniors Adam Mehelic and Jackson Parker, also had strong games.

Burdett had a career-high 13 points and Mehelic contributed 10 points. Parker had a team-high 12 rebounds.

"Jack comes from a great family," Brink said. "I had the pleasure of coaching his older brother Brendan. Jack was one of the most dedicated guys in the off-season.

"Adam had a solid game and it went unnoticed, but Jackson was dominant on the glass."

Beck finished with 13 points and 6 assists as eight Hudson players scored at least two points in the win.

"Alex had his best all-around game," Brink said.

Senior guards Denzel Robinson and Tre'Maine Gray each led Firestone with 17 points as the Falcons had a number of shots from both inside and outside roll around the rim throughout the evening.

For Brink and his seven seniors, keeping the Explorers' season alive has healed a lot of wounds.

Hudson has struggled for much of the winter, so a postseason win like this can do wonders for the players' confidence as long as they have a chance to keep returning to the court.

"We had one of our better days of practice [earlier in the week]," Brink said. "We had a tendency to play a great quarter or a great half. It has been a little frustrating.

"To the seniors, we preached redemption. They've had some tough times and it has been a difficult year. But this was their chance to go out on a good note in their last game at the Buck."


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