HUDSON — Senior night was a success in every way.
It featured comeback efforts from the freshman and junior varsity teams and the unveiling of banners for the state champion boys cross country squad and the state runner-up field hockey team.
And, of course, the seniors for both the Hudson and Wadsworth varsity boys basketball teams also were honored.
To cap it off, the Explorers concluded their regular season with a resounding win.
Host Hudson earned its third straight victory after posting a convincing 53-34 win over the Grizzlies Friday at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
The Explorers improved to 14-8 and finished 7-7 in the Suburban League National Conference.
While Hudson head coach Jeff Brink enjoyed the festivities, he did admit the occasion was bittersweet.
"Senior night is a fun night, but it is also kind of a sad night," he said. "Luckily, having a home game, you know it’s not your last [home] game.
"This gives you a chance to sit back, relax and appreciate the accomplishments and achievements of what these kids were able to do over their careers."
The Explorers will have one more game at "The Buck."
Sixth-seeded Hudson is scheduled to entertain 11th-seeded Nordonia in a Solon Division I sectional semifinal game Wednesday at 7 p.m.
For five Hudson seniors, this will likely be the last time they will be on the court at the same time.
Liam Brennan, Anthony Chokenea, Brandon Lal, Aaron Martin and William Wallace made up the starting five.
It looked like they have played together all their lives.
That’s because Hudson blasted its way out of the gates to take a 15-4 lead after the first eight minutes. The Explorers increased their lead to 17 (25-8) by halftime and didn’t look back.
The highlight of Hudson’s stellar first half was an impressive 17-0 run.
Wallace was the catalyst for the Explorers. He scored 13 first-quarter points to put the Grizzlies (10-12, 6-8) in a precarious position. Wallace finished with a game-high 22 points.
"Will is a streaky shooter," Brink said. "When he’s going good, he’s as good as anyone in our league. He’s a great player.
"His shot has been falling the past few games. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He is not only shooting well, but his overall game has been very good."
Hudson converted 22 of 44 shots on the evening and was even more scintillating on the defensive end.
Wadsworth made just 13 of 43 shots from the floor, including a woeful 4 of 18 on attempts beyond the 3-point arc.
"We usually play a lot of 25 matchup zone, but we played a lot of man [Friday]," Wallace said. "We really had to win our battles.
"Coach always preaches about winning our one-on-one battles and the rest, like help side, will happen. It was a great win.
"We had a rough third quarter, but we punched them back in the fourth quarter with a lot of good stops, a lot of big rebounds. Dave Gentry played a really good game. We really finished strong."
Gentry, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, came off the bench to score four points and grab three offensive rebounds.
The Grizzlies cut their deficit to 13 (33-20) at the end of three quarters, but they never made much of a threat.
Jack Burdett, a 6-6 post player, finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Explorers, who haven’t had much luck with Wadsworth over the years.
Hudson is now 20-36 against the Grizzlies. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak to the Medina County school as well.
"We have had a lot of ups and downs, Wallace said. "It would have been easy when we had that rough five-game stretch [all losses] to kind of give up on the season. This shows how much we care. The seniors showed a lot of leadership."
While Wallace, Burdett and Gentry were certainly stars in their own right, the night belonged to five other Explorers, who will step away from Hudson-Aurora Road forever later this spring.
"We have had these seniors around for probably 10 years," Brink said.
"I have watched them grow up. We had a great start [7-1] and then a rough stretch. I give a lot of credit to our seniors for circling the wagons and finishing extremely strong and having a great year.
"A 14-8 year in our league is a tremendous year. We are playing as well as anyone in our league right now."
The fun began for Hudson prior to the varsity game.
Despite rallying from an eight-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, the Explorers lost a 34-33 decision in the freshman contest.
Hudson rallied from a 10-point deficit with a little more than three minutes left to stun Wadsworth 32-31 in the JV contest.
Tyler Miller led the JV squad with 10 points and finished with a team-leading 200 points. The Explorers’ JV team finished 15-7 overall and 8-6 in the conference.