HUDSON — Same story line, quite different results.
Throughout the season, the Hudson and Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball teams have had a common underlying theme.
That would be winning the battle in the paint.
When the two teams met earlier in the season, the Bulldogs and particularly 6-foot-4 sophomore center Van Shyjka, had the upper hand.
On Friday, it was the Explorers’ turn, thanks to their formidable big man.
Six-foot-6 senior post Jack Burdett had one of his most dominant games of the season to lead host Hudson to a lopsided 54-31 victory over the Bulldogs at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
With the win, the Explorers, who saw their chances of getting a piece of the Suburban League National Conference title shattered with North Royalton’s 58-45 win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights Friday, improved to 13-7 overall and 9-4 in the Suburban League Conference. Stow, which defeated Hudson 51-43 last month, dropped to 10-11 overall and 7-6 in the conference.
Burdett scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter against the Bulldogs. The Explorers, who have won eight straight games and 10 of their last 11, had a comfortable 40-20 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
Burdett also had seven rebounds as Hudson had a commanding 29-12 advantage on the glass.
"I knew I had to guard my kid in the post a lot better," Burdett said. "On offense, I had to make sure that I was getting them in foul trouble. I really tried to take it to them and we ran a lot more plays designed to get me in the post."
When the two teams met in January, Shyjka clearly had the edge against the taller Burdett. Shyjka had nine points and 12 rebounds while Burdett finished with just four points and seven rebounds.
Not this time. Shyjka, who was in foul trouble throughout the evening, did not score a single point against the surging Explorers.
"We talked about it [Thursday] in practice and decided we would go strength on strength," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "We’re going to go right at them and attack them with Jack. That was our philosophy and we stuck to it.
"I can’t say enough about our kids’ patience. Our guys played a great fundamental high school basketball game. It was get the ball to Jack and he was in beast mode on both ends. You hold a good player to zero and scored 22 at the other end. That’s a dominant performance."
Although the two teams have had quite a rivalry over the years, Stow has had a significant edge. The Bulldogs still have a 69-31 advantage against the Explorers.
Friday, on the other hand, was a much different story. Hudson took a 14-2 lead and didn’t look back.
The Explorers’ win was their largest margin of victory since they earned an 87-55 win over Stow in 1987.
Dave Gentry added 10 points and seven rebounds for Hudson. Owen Bainbridge led the Bulldogs with 10 points.
"We wanted to win every quarter and make sure we played a 32-minute game," Brinks said. "We have gone through stretches where we would play a good three quarters and then implode in the fourth.
"One of the statements was when they tried to press us. We just threw over the press and got a dunk. It was like the statement of, ‘That’s not happening [Friday].’"
While neither team had much of a chance of winning a conference championship entering Friday’s showdown, at least one senior didn’t take the Hudson-Stow showdown for granted.
Unless his team meets the Bulldogs in the postseason, Burdett will have the last laugh against his top rival.
"This was a huge game for us," Burdett said. "After that game [the loss at Stow], we had a long, hard talk for about an hour and a half of our practice. Ever since then, we kind of turned it around."