HUDSON - On the surface, when looking at their combined record of 5-30 entering their non-conference encounter Tuesday night in Hudson, it appears the Explorers and Kent Roosevelt Rough Riders would probably be playing out the string until the arrival of postseason basketball.
But with both teams having so much youth on their respective rosters — five seniors combined between the two schools — every game presents an opportunity for both individuals and teams to get better.
Coming off a major disappointment last Friday against Stow-Munroe Falls, the host Explorers rebounded nicely against the Rough Riders, scoring predominately close to the rim en route to a 51-38 triumph over Roosevelt at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
"We hit a manhole last week with Stow," said Explorers coach Jeff Brink. "It was probably one of the worst losses since I've been at Hudson. Those are tough to recover from, so it was nice to get back on the horse and get a win."
Junior William Wallace had one of his better offensive outputs of the season, scoring a team-high 20 points as Hudson notched its fourth win of the season against 14 defeats. Fourteen of Wallace's points came on layups, including all eight of his first-half points as the Explorers forged ahead to a 23-18 lead at the break.
"He missed some games earlier in the year," said Brink, "so he has come back and been one of our leading scorers since he's been back. In tonight's game, his 3-point shot wasn't falling early, and he is usually one of our better 3 shooters, so we tried to get some looks with him going to the rim. He is a good finisher at the rim and off the dribble. I thought he was pretty effective getting to the rim tonight."
Sophomore forward Jack Burdett, who also had eight points in the first two quarters, scored inside midway through the third period to give the hosts their first double-digit lead of the night at 33-22.
The 6-foot-6 Burdett registered a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, basically reaching his average for the season.
"Jack has been dominant for us all year for a sophomore," said Brink. "He has been averaging about 14-15 a game and pretty much double digits in rebounds. He has kind of been our main option all year."
Roosevelt (2-17) refused to go away and reeled off the final seven points of the frame to draw within 33-29 through 24 minutes.
However, Wallace opened the fourth stanza with his first 3-pointer of the night, and the Rough Riders were never able to get closer than five points the rest of the way.
After Common hit a free toss with 4:06 to play to make the score 40-34, Wallace popped in a transition layup. Following two more Common free throws, the 6-foot Wallace drilled home his second 3-ball of the night with 2:35 showing to pretty much put the finishing touches on this one.
Common was scoreless in the first half, but responded with a 17-point outburst after the break and scored all but three of his squad's points in the final half.
"He is gaining a feel for the game and understood that we needed somebody at some point to go out and make some plays," said Rough Riders coach Christian Hunter of his sophomore point guard. "He naturally can kind of get his own (offense), and we have to get other guys involved and get other guys shots. We just didn't have enough guys ready to go tonight, and that is on me."
Senior Carl Cronbaugh was Roosevelt's next highest-scorer with seven points.
Roosevelt only hit 13 field goals, six of which were 3s.
The two teams combined to shoot only 13 free throws, and neither team went to the line during the first 26 minutes of play. Hudson, in fact, did not convert its first free throw until only 24 second remained to be played.
Hudson junior guard Aaron Martin hit that initial free throw and finished with 11 points.
"I think when you look at Wallace's 20, Burdett's 14 and Martin's 11, that's pretty much three of our big four," said Brink. "It's nice to get a little diversified scoring out of those guys."