High school boys basketball: After month-long pause, lack of rhythm, balance stunts Hudson against Wadsworth

Ashley Bastock
Akron Beacon Journal
Hudson's Tyler Miller, right, puts up a shot against Wadsworth's Connor Sams during the first half of the Grizzlies' 66-53 win on Friday night. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

WADSWORTH — Before Friday night's Suburban League game against Wadsworth, the Hudson boys basketball team had gone exactly one month without a game. 

Although the Explorers maintained a lead for most of the night, their inexperience due to a slew of COVID-19 cancellations this year ultimately proved to be their Achilles' heel and they were outscored 24-7 in the fourth quarter of a 66-53 loss.

"I thought the entire Wadsworth squad outworked us," Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. "I thought their physicality, effort and grit definitely raised in the second half. And I thought they really changed the tempo of the game and fought and played with a lot of heart and emotion.

"On our end, we made way, way too many mistakes. We haven't played in over a month and didn't get to practice for a couple of weeks. So, it's been a rough go of it in terms of prep. But that's no excuse. The bottom line is we have to perform better. ... Obviously we tried to make some adjustments on the fly. We had some mistakes from some young guys that hadn't had a lot of varsity experience. It kind of bit us."

Wadsworth (6-3, 3-2) starts three underclassmen but, in the grand scheme of things, those underclassmen have a lot of varsity experience — especially considering they have played nine games already this year, and sophomore Solomon Callaghan (who led the Grizzlies with 21 points) received all-league honors after his freshman season. 

Hudson had played just two games coming into Friday night. 

In the fourth quarter, Wadsworth's spurt neutralized a 21-point effort by Tyler Miller and a 14-point, 12-rebound performance by David Gentry. 

As Hudson held on to a 48-44 lead, Wadsworth responded with a 15-0 run over about five minutes. During that stretch, the Grizzlies threw zone looks at Hudson in the half court, as well as a tempo press.

"It's a tempo press, so they're not really looking for steals," Brink said. "And they did change the tempo. They did exactly what they wanted. We kind of played into their hands by making some stupid mental mistakes and throwing the ball where we shouldn't have where we worked on it all week."

The two teams made a comparable number of shots overall (22 for the Explorers, 20 for the Grizzlies), but Hudson's struggles to shoot from deep was also a huge difference in the game. 

The Explorers made just three 3-point attempts compared to nine for Wadsworth. But without many games yet this season, Hudson (2-1, 1-1) hasn't had much time to find its rhythm from beyond the arc. 

"We shot the ball extremely well in the offseason in preparation for the season, and we've come out and we're atrocious from the 3-point line, just atrocious," Brink said. 

On Dec. 9, the district shut down athletics due to the COVID-19 pandemic following guidance from Summit County. For most of their shutdown, all the team could participate in was virtual film work over Zoom. 

The week of Christmas, Hudson was able to resume skill work, but didn't hold a contact practice until the Monday leading into the Wadsworth game.

"The last week we were able to have four days of practice," Brink said. "It's been a tough go, but everyone's in the same boat. I know that a lot of teams have had a lot less than we had. So many teams didn't get to do the skill work, and they're walking in and playing games.

"This year you have to look at every basketball game you get to play as a blessing. I told our kids be thankful you had an opportunity to play, and hopefully we get to play more basketball, and get as many games as we can."

Wadsworth had the clear advantage in number of games played coming into Friday, but it was hardly easy preparing for Hudson.

In a normal year, high school teams would all be about halfway through their schedule at this point. So when it comes to scouting, finding tendencies and patterns of an opponent which has had such a long layoff is that much more difficult.

"It's really hard to prep for that," Wadsworth coach Mike Moser said. "Really for the most part you're going off of what they did in the first couple of games they were able to play before they hit the pause button and what you've known from their returning guys.

"Hudson is phenomenal. When I played here that was our biggest rival, so that still sits there when you're teaching those kids to compete. But hats off to Hudson, they're so big and physical. It's a tough team, and they're well-coached."