For Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball, it was a case of pick your poison.
Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball Coach Kenny Johnson had a choice when his squad faced off with Suburban League rival Hudson for the second time in the 2018-19 campaign. In the first meeting, a 73-57 Explorers victory on Falls’ court, the Explorers Jack Burdett was unstoppable in the paint with 27 points.
On Tuesday at Hudson’s Buck Hyser Gymnasium, Johnson opted to sag in on the 6-foot-6 junior post and take his chances with Hudson shooting from outside.
The Explorers responded making their first four 3-pointers to jump out to an 18-9 lead after one and coasted to a 57-35 win. The Black Tigers fell to 1-15, 0-10.
"We were going to switch back and forth from a 2-3 (zone) to a man," Johnson said of the defensive strategy. "Burdett killed us last time so our game plan was anytime he touches it in the post to try to double down. We did that early on, but [Aaron] Martin hit two threes in a row and then [William] Wallace hit a three. Hudson shot it really well in the first half. They made 50 percent in the first half and we were 1-11. We built a hole. we missed a lot of layups in the first half."
Hudson’s Brad McCormick added a fourth triple late in the first quarter and to add insult to injury, the Explorers big men (Burdett and Brandon Lal) combined to make the hosts’ first five foul shots.
The lead ballooned to 34-18 at the half and Hudson ended all doubt with an 11-1 spurt to start the second half to build a 45-19 advantage.
"In the third quarter we came out of the locker-room with zero energy," Johnson said. "We basically told them ‘You are either going to cut into this and get it to 10 or 12 to start the fourth quarter and have a chance to win or they’re going to get it up to 25.’ That is exactly what happened. Hudson made a run early in the third quarter. From there, it was basically game over."
"We are a tough match-up for them because they don’t have a lot of size this season. They are a lot better than their record indicates," Hudson Coach Jeff Brink noted. "We did a pretty good job of scoring by committee. We had contributions from a lot of guys. We hit some threes early. They cheated off Aaron twice and he banged the first two threes. That was a good read and execution on his part."
Martin’s first triple came on Hudson’s second possession and the game tied at 2-2. Wallace followed with a steal and lay-up before Martin hit again from the same spot on the top right side of the arc. The senior spotted the Explorers a 10-2 lead as they opened 4-4 from the field.
Martin ended with those six points.
The Explorers continued to hit from downtown negating the efforts in the paint on stopping Burdett. McCormick added his second trey early in the second and Damani Ganaway hit the team’s sixth in their first 10 attempts later in the first half.
Ganaway finished with seven points and McCormick had six.
Hudson missed its last seven deep balls but the damage was already done. Meanwhile Wallace scored a game high 14 points and Burdett tallied 11 along with nine rebounds.
The plan to stop Burdett was sound but Hudson’s hot long range shooting ruined that strategy.
"We just don’t have a 6-6 kid that can match-up so you have to dig down and do different things. We had Daizhan Brazile on him (Burdett) early. Then Anthony Nichols played him for a while. Our guards, Alex Miller, came down and dug really well on the post. Pick your poison; they got us with three-point shooting," Johnson added.
James Moore came on strong late in the third quarter scoring eight of his team high 10 points in a two-minute span as time wound down in the frame. The senior drained two triples sandwiching a score inside.
When he hit the first three with 2:53 left in the third it ended what was a 0-16 effort from deep by the Black Tigers.
Falls was set to face Nordonia Friday at 7:30 p.m. on the road.
The Black Tigers will host Akron North Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and host Stow-Munroe Falls Friday at 7:30 p.m.