With another year of maturity, Hudson girls basketball looks to climb

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Hudson's Ali Menedez goes up for a three point shot against Highland during a game last season. Menedez is Hudson's top returning scorer.

To say its been a trying preseason for Hudson girls basketball is an understatement.

First, a COVID-19 contact forced the Explorers into quarantine for two weeks, cancelling three of their scrimmages.

"It’s been tough," said Hudson coach Dennis Lawler said. "Our kids have been out. We're trying to get them up to speed. Conditioning might be a thing. I can’t imagine too many teams are not going have disruptions."

Then, Lawler had a major health scare while his team was idled.

"If there was a time for it to happen, it happened at the right time," Lawler said. "I'm doing well now, but I’m going to have to change the way I coach a little bit. I'm going to have to sit down more. I’m happy with my assistant coaches."

Despite these hurdles, Lawler remains optimistic as he heads into his 16th year in charge of the program.

Last winter, Hudson went 9-15, including 4-10 in the Suburban League National Conference. The Explores lost 38-28 to Warren Harding in a Division I sectional final.

"I thought we got a lot better as the year went on," Lawler said. "We were in a bunch of close games. I think we played our best game of the year with Warren Harding. We were a little closer to .500 last year."

With the majority his squad returning, Lawler notes finishing above .500 is a team goal.

"It’s been a tough start, but we improved a lot," Lawler said. "We did a lot of individual skill work. The backbone of our team last year was sophomores. Three of the five starters are back."

As has been the case throughout his tenure, Lawler will look for Hudson to create most of its offense through its defense. The Explorers will have a base man-to-man defense, though a matchup zone and some three-quarter court pressing could be in order.

When in the half-court offense, Hudson will use "basic motion concepts," according Lawler.

Regarding the National Conference, Lawler notes rival Stow-Munroe Falls remains the team to beat.

"They’re going to be the team others are judged by," Lawler said. "They’ve got two of the best players of the league. It’s been a challenge for us against them .Part of that is mentality."

Lawler said her hopes Hudson is closes to Wadsworth and Nordonia this winter.

Lawler's varsity assistants include Ernie D’Amato and former Hudson standout Hannah Boesinger. Mandy Coffman is Hudson's junior varisty coach.

Lost to graduation for Hudson were starters Sarah Hinkle and Anastasia Lawler, aw well as Joselyn Weaver.

Hudson will carry a 15-player varsity roster, though Lawler notes half of those players will split time between varsity and JV in an effort to get maximum playing time.

Hudson's most experienced senior is 6-foot center Kate Orezen, a three-year starter who returns as Hudson's top rebounder.

"I think having Hannah is going to help all of our post players and you can see that with Kate," Lawler said. "I like a lot of what she's been able to do this off-season."

Senior forward Juliet Lamb (5-9) will see time at the three-guard and power forward spot at a role player for Hudson.

Senior forward Jordan Seiple (5-8) and senior guard Maddie Newberry will provide depth for the Explorers.

The junior class remain Hudson's backbone. The group includes 5-4 shooting guard Ali Menedez, who is Hudson's top returning scorer, thanks to her outside shooting prowess.

"She grew a little bit during the offseason," Lawler said. "She's a tremendously hard worker and a basketball junkie. I think she's going to see some time at point guard as well."

Hudson's third returning starter is junior three-guard Delaney DiGeronimoa (5-7).

"She's a kid that can really shoot it," Lawler said. "I think her shooting touch is better even than last year. She's a good rebounder as well."

After playing as Hudson's sixth man last year, junior forward Constance Loring (5-9) will step into the starting lineup. 

"She’s one of the most improved kids we have," Lawler said. "For her size, shes one of the best rebounders that I’ve seen. She's also one of our best defensive players.

Rounding out the starting lineup will be junior point guard Paige Albrecht (5-4).

"She has really worked on her passing," Lawler said.

Junior Josephine Lawler (5-5), the coach's daughter, will see time at the three-guard position, while junior Moira Ackerman (6 foot) will be part of a revolving corps of backup post players.

That group also includes sophomore center Aurora Rothegerber (6 foot) and freshman center Kara Lightner (6-0), both of whom missed all over last year due to injury.

Coach Lawler called sophomore forward Gracie Merrick (5-8) "our most athletic kid," while sophomore Emily Henderson (5-7) will see time as the Explorers backup point guard.

Sophomore Emma Hillman (5-8) will provide depth at the guard spots after a successful volleyball season.

COVID-19 issues cost Hudson their first two games of the season, but Lawler has been able to adjust.

The Explorers were set to host Revere Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. followed by a trip to Kent Roosevelt. Nov. 28 at 2:30 p.m.

Hudson will open National Confernedce play Dec. 2 at 7 p,m at home vs. Wadxsorth.