HUDSON — One team was on a three-game losing streak and had lost five of its last six.
The other team had won five of its last six and earned a sweep over a longtime nemesis for the first time in recent memory.
In a battle of Suburban League crossover rivals, it was struggling Hudson that prevailed against a surging Tallmadge squad.
The host Explorers ended a three-game losing streak after earning a 39-34 victory over the Blue Devils Wednesday at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
With the win, Hudson improved to 6-8. Tallmadge, which completed a sweep against Suburban League American Conference foe Revere, thanks to a 39-36 win last Saturday at James O. Maddox Court, dropped to 9-6.
Although his team struggled to score, particularly from point-blank range, Blue Devils first-year head coach Brett Bickar wasn’t particularly distraught by his team’s performance.
"I thought our effort was really good," he said. "I was happy with the overall way we played. I thought we moved the ball well. We were trapping all over the court.
"We just missed so many opportunities. We missed layups or there were just some bad decisions in transition. We got the ball in space and we didn’t do anything with it."
The Explorers exploded out of the gates to take a 17-4 lead after the first eight minutes and did not relinquish their advantage the rest of the way.
Tallmadge responded with a 12-2 run to cut its deficit to three (19-16) late in the second quarter, but didn’t get closer.
It seemed like whenever the Blue Devils had a chance to make a move, Hudson had a knack for getting some separation.
"We just have to do a better job of making those plays," Bickar said. "We were within six or seven points for a majority of the game. A couple of those baskets fall, who knows what could have happened."
Explorers’ senior guard Sarah Hinkle delivered the backbreaking blow when she received a pass from sophomore guard Delaney DiGeronimo and banked in a 3-pointer from the right side. That triple gave Hudson a 35-27 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Explorers were able to eat up some valuable time off the clock late in the game, thanks to their stellar ball movement.
"Our defense was good," Bickar said. "Our shooting was just not where it needs to be to extend the lead to get a big lead."
Hinkle led Hudson with 11 points and sophomore guard Ali Menendez, who left the game after getting poked in the eye and then hitting her head on the floor late in the second half, had eight points for the Explorers.
Senior center Jocelyn Weaver, junior center Kate Orazen and sophomore forward Constance Loring each had six points for Hudson.
Senior guard Lizzie Bickar led all scorers with 19 points for Tallmadge. She also had six steals and four rebounds. Senior forward Jill Catalano added 13 points and six rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Thanks to its win over the Minutemen, Tallmadge improved to 4-3 in the American Conference.
Bickar led the Blue Devils with 12 points and freshman guard Maya Dexter and sophomore center Addie Bowman each scored eight points for Tallmadge.
"Maya is playing really well right now," Coach Bickar said. "We’re still working on just getting her confidence to finish more baskets. A freshman shouldn’t be asked to handle the ball as much as she has.
"She’s kind of our second ball-handler and she’s doing a great job. Her defense has come so far this season. She’s rebounding; she’s getting deflections and steals."
Tallmadge saved its best for last against its adversary. The Blue Devils outscored Revere 24-15 in the second half.
"That was a great game," Coach Bickar said. "It was another battle. It was back and forth. I think they went up 29-21 late in the third quarter, early fourth quarter and it looked a little bleak for us."
So it seemed, at least. Until Tallmadge got a major boost from a less-heralded reserve and a precocious freshman.
"[Junior guard] Heather Baxter came in and gave us a lift," Coach Bickar said. "She hit a big 3, played some really good defense for a couple of possessions. We got another steal, she got tired, [freshman guard] Natalie Ries came back in, hit consecutive 3-pointers from the wing. All of a sudden, we had the lead."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.