AKRON — Two steps forward and one step back or was it one step forward and two steps back?
Any way you look at it, the Hudson boys basketball team followed up arguably its best effort of the season with an effort that was, well, not one of its best.
The Explorers dropped to 1-7 after falling to Ellet 47-39 Tuesday evening in Akron. The loss took place four days after hanging with a powerful Stow-Munroe Falls squad before eventually losing 50-39.
"We took a lot of positive steps in the Stow game and this was definitely a step backward," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "The first half was not a very good half. We had a poor (second) quarter and the turnovers were sloppy. We have to be better than that."
It wasn’t all bad for the Explorers, who finally had a full lineup with the season debuts of William Wallace and Joey Walsh.
After scoring just 13 points in the first half and trailing 22-13 at the break, Hudson averaged 13 points per quarter in the second half to edge the Orangemen 26-25 in the final 16 minutes.
However, it wasn’t enough to counter a 9-block night by Ellet senior Alfred Johnson III or an 8-steal game from junior guard Storm Cherry. Cherry led all scorers with 19 points while the 6-foot-7 Johnson scored 6 points.
"We knew he (Johnson) is a great shot blocker," Brink said. "Some of our takes were not good basketball plays. They were poor decisions. We kind of played into their hands and were too sloppy with the ball. Eighteen turnovers and nine blocks: Those blocks are like turnovers."
The second quarter was the Explorers’ undoing.
They were outscored 12-4 and they committed five turnovers in the period.
Despite just one win, the Explorers have played their eight opponents evenly in the first quarter, are plus one point in the third and minus two in the fourth. The second quarter now favors the opposition 115-75.
The first period had a rocky start with three turnovers in the first three possessions.
Junior Aaron Martin finally made good on a 3-pointer on the fourth touch. That possession was extended by a Brandon Lal offensive rebound and eventually a pass from Jack Burdett to Martin to make the score 4-3 in favor of the hosts.
All three underclassmen had some good numbers. Burdett led Hudson with 15 points, while Martin chipped in with 12 points. Lal did not score, mainly due to the presence of Johnson in the paint, but he pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
"Jack had a good second half," Brink said. "The first half, I thought he played too tentative. We challenged him at halftime to come out and be more aggressive.
"He did a great job in the second half (scoring 11 points after the break). Brandon Lal battles hard. He has been our leading assist guy and he’s doing a great job on the glass. We have some things that are positives and we have to take them and get better at some of the fundamentals."
Hudson trailed 10-9 after the first eight minutes and spent the rest of the night chasing Ellet on the scoreboard.
While the offense struggled against the Orangemen’s pressure and height inside, the Explorers defense kept the game close. Hudson forced 15 turnovers and scored 17 points on possessions after Ellet turnovers.
"Defensively we are probably where we need to be," Brink said. "After being down double digits (26-13 early in the second half), we got ourselves back to a two-possession game (down 38-34 with four minutes to play). We fought our way back into it, but we let it slip away again."
Hudson’s junior varsity team improved to 3-5 with a 54-48 overtime win.
Freshman Tyler Miller had a huge game with 22 points including seven of the Explorers’ eight points in the four-minute extra session.
Both the varsity and JV squads are scheduled to visit Suburban League National Conference rival Twinsburg Friday at 7:30 p.m.
They are set to visit Boardman Saturday at 7 p.m. Hudson is scheduled to visit National Conference foe Wadsworth Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.