Hudson boys basketball happy to be on the court

Rob Barrone
Hudson's Tyler Miller drives to the basket during a scrimmage at Aurora Nov. 10.

Graduation can take its toll on a good sports program.

That is the case with the Hudson Explorers boys’ basketball team as they get set to start the 2020-21 season.

However, graduation of athletes like Jake Burdett, Damani Ganaway, Peyton Koscho and Brad McCormick from a 16-8 squad a year ago is just the tip of the iceberg.

“We have a chance to be a good ballclub …it’s going to take some time. We are going to have to be patient. We have some young guys that are inexperienced so there is going to be some growing pains,” fifteenth year head coach Jeff Brink. “As we improve throughout the season we could have a strong finish and a good run toward the tournament.”

“The bottom line is that every day is a bonus that you get to play the game. You can look at the negatives and all of the things we don’t have but we have to be thankful we get to play the game."

The season already has had its first set-back as the scheduled season opener at Austintown Fitch Nov. 27 has been cancelled due to COVID. That makes the home opener Dec. 1 against Wadsworth the new season opener.

With the graduation of Burdett, Hudson’s all-time leader in rebounds, assists and games played, the Explorers will have some big shoes to fill.

Experience is thin at the varsity level but a pair of seniors lead the way in forwards David Gentry and Tyler Miller on a roster that has seven upperclassmen.

Gentry is the top returning scorer from a year ago and lone starter back. Gentry averaged 12.6 ppg and 7.2 boards. He was Hudson’s leading scorer 10 contests.

“Dave has had a great pre-season. He’s got a lot of D-3’s and D-2’s interested. He’s drawing college attention,” Brink said. “It’s a luxury to have a player of his caliber returning. He is so good around the hoop. He’s about 6-5, 6-6 but he plays a lot bigger than his size. He has added a perimeter game to his repertoire. We’re excited to see him play.”

Miller is the top returner in three-pointers made with 11 a year ago. He averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

“Tyler is an explosive player who gives you big time scoring. He can get to the rim and has a lot of athleticism. He is a tremendous shooter with unlimited range. With his skill set we can use him in a variety of capacities,” Brink stated.

Senior guard JD Taylor scored seven varsity points in 14 games a year ago. He was sixth in scoring (80 points) on the 17-5 junior varsity team.

“JD is a solid player and very cerebral,” Brink said. “He does a tremendous job communicating with his teammates. He can handle the ball and make shots. He can contribute in many different areas.”

Senior forward Michael Klein had six varsity points last season and 114 at the JV level.

“Michael has had a great off-season,” Brink said. “He is probably the most improved player from last season to this season."

Senior guard Whitman had just one varsity score; a three pointer last year but he was third on the junior varsity with 144 points scored.

“Jack is one of our best three-point shooters. He has grown some too so he has added some size. He had a real solid jayvee year last year that I think will propel him into a role where he can contribute to the varsity rotation,” Brink added.

Senior forward Powell had two varsity points and 71 for the junior varsity as a junior.

Senior guard Cosentino had five varsity points and 42 at the jayvee level but defense is this senior’s specialty.

“Jonathan is one of our best defensive players. He brings a ton of energy. He can change tempo by putting pressure on the opposing team’s back-court,” Brink explained.

Junior guard Aiden Lal scored 14 points in 20 games of varsity last year. He added 111 points for the JV..

“Aiden is a returning letterman who is coming off a spectacular football season (15 touchdowns). We have to give him a chance to get his basketball legs and get in there and help us,” Brink said.

Junior guard Carter Buzzelli scored five varsity points and was the junior varsity’s leading scorer with 168 points.

“Carter is one of our primary ball-handlers and he shoots the three very well,” Brink said. “He has had a great off-season so we expect him to have a big season for us. He works very, very hard and is a team first guy.”

Junior guard Ryan Evans played in six varsity games as a sophomore, but was second on the junior varsity with 152 points.

“Ryan is unique; he is a guard that can go inside and that’s because of his physicality,” Brink explained. “He is a strong player; another football player. We can use him on the perimeter but he can also play a big guy because he is physical and strong.”

Junior guard Cole Trautman did not score for the varsity a year ago scoring 38 JV points.

“Cole is a good skill player. He has a good skill set and works hard,” Brink noted.

Back to assist Brink is Bruce Thomas and Chris Kessick. Tommy Stockard coaches the junior varsity and Jeremy Tawney is back with the freshman squad. Steve Manna will help out with the frosh.

The freshmen group has moved up to form a strong junior varsity team this year for Stockard. That roster has; Gio DePompei, Jagger Pallay, Rocco Reese, LT Proctor, Michael Steel, Matt McDonald, Tino Yli-Junnila, Nathan Miller, Luke Brennan and Robert Deuberry.

The Suburban League National Conference will be strong top to bottom in 2020-21.

Non league foes include Highland, Kent Roosevelt, Mayfield as well as Akron City Series teams Ellet and East. The Hudson Holiday Tournament (Dec. 29 and 30) will feature Streetsboro, Akron North and Strongsville.

Of course all of this hinges on the unpredictability of COVID-19.