HUDSON — They have done much scuffling throughout the early portion of the season.
Nevertheless, they are still quite comfortable in their favorite spot, though.
If you’ve played for the Tigers in the last several years, you know this.
Hudson always has a place for you to call home.
Twinsburg continued its mastery over its longtime rival after earning a come-from-behind 48-45 victory over the host Explorers. The Suburban League National Conference showdown took place Wednesday at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
If you’ve followed the rivalry between the two teams, one thing is crystal clear: The Tigers have Hudson’s number.
On Wednesday, it looked like Twinsburg’s days of tormenting its favorite little sister were on the verge of ending.
Sadly for the Explorers, it was not to be.
Hudson surrendered a nine-point lead late in the first quarter, thanks to a few turnovers and some woeful shooting at the foul line.
And, of course, the Tigers (3-6, 3-4) turned it up a few notches.
Thanks to its hawkish defensive pressure, Twinsburg outscored the Explorers 16-6 in the final eight minutes.
"We talked about emphasizing defense and turning defense into offense," Tigers head coach Jessica Rader said. "I thought in the second half, our defensive intensity got a lot better. That’s what sparked our offense."
It did indeed.
Twinsburg’s biggest spark was junior guard Jada Austin, who scored seven of her game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Austin’s long 3-pointer from the right side gave the Tigers, who trailed most of the game, the lead (45-43) for good with approximately 90 seconds left. Austin has picked up just about all of her team’s responsibilities since a very talented teammate was forced to leave the floor last month.
Senior guard/forward Alana Ellis, who scored 38 points against Hudson last season, did not play due to a knee injury. Rader said Ellis could return to the court next week.
"It’s a bad shot if she misses, but it’s a great shot because it went in," Rader said of Austin’s cold-blooded 3-pointer. "With Alana out right now, we’re looking for someone to fill that void. Most of the time, that has been Jada. She hit some big shots."
For good measure, Austin helped deliver the dagger when she grabbed a loose ball, went coast to coast before dumping the ball to Genesis Carthen. The freshman guard/forward did the rest as she easily finished with a layup to extend Twinsburg’s advantage to five (48-43).
As for the Explorers (5-7, 2-5), they may have left the gym wondering what hit them. In the end, they didn’t help themselves.
Hudson missed seven of its nine shots and also misfired on six of its eight foul shots in the final period.
"We just have to find a way to keep playing," Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler said. "We get up nine or 10 and then we put it in neutral. When you get it to nine or 10, you have to get it to 14, 15."
Sophomore guard/forward Logan Pride contributed 13 points to go along with a blocked shot late in the game for the Tigers. Carthen added nine points and senior point guard Faith Gregory kept Twinsburg’s ship in order, thanks to her ball-handling, distributing and most of all, defense. Gregory finished with four steals.
"Logan and a couple of other girls stepped up in crucial moments," Rader said. "Faith Gregory handles a ton of pressure the whole game," Rader said. "She attacked the rim well. Genesis Carthen had a big blocked shot right at the last minute and [senior forward] Alex Walker did a great job rebounding."
Junior center Kate Orazen led Hudson with 16 points. Senior guard Sarah Hinkle and sophomore guard Ali Menendez added 12 and eight points, respectively, for the Explorers, who gained their nine-point advantage mainly because of their defense. Hudson forced 16 of Twinsburg’s 19 turnovers in the first three quarters.
"Our effort is there," Lawler said. "We just need to find a way to finish off games. It’s frustrating for them. I want them to get wins; they want to get wins."
Rader can certainly relate. Fortunately for the second-year coach and her resilient Tigers, they know just where to find them.
It happens to be located on Hudson-Aurora Road.
"We always have close games," Rader said. "They always come out with a lot of intensity. We try to match that."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.