Hudson boys basketball beats Nordonia in final game before shutdown

Rob Barrone
Correspondent
Hudson's David Gentry puts up a shot around Nordonia's Joel Jones during the Explorers' 55-43 win at Nordonia Dec. 8.

The Hudson and Nordonia boys basketball programs began heading in different directions after they met up Dec. 8 on the Knights home court.

The story could have or should have been Hudson winning 55-43.

Instead the big story is Covid19 and its impact.

The Explorers (2-0 overall and 1-0 in Suburban League play) came to Nordonia and took care of business dropping the Knights to 2-3, 1-1.

Hudson also came out on the court knowing this would be there last game of 2020 while Nordonia will press on with its season.

Hudson’s season is shutdown until at least Jan. 4.

“It’s early in the year and …unfortunately we need to play games, but now we are going back the other way and do not get to play," Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. “We talk about kids facing adversity …let’s keep things in perspective; It’s basketball, it’s a sport, and we all want to play. We got some games in and hopefully we’ll get some more in. Our kids have put in a lot of time. I really hope they get the opportunity to play.”

On the other side, Nordonia has big games coming up.

“We’ve been told were going to continue to play,” Knights coach Dominique Sanders said after his club’s home loss. “Our next opponent is Friday (Dec. 11) at Brecksville and then we play them again, back to back, on Tuesday (Dec.15). We’re getting our conference games out of the way. We are getting ready for another tough opponent.”

Against Hudson, the Knights ended up relying on outside shooting to stay in the game. The hosts hit 11 threes on 31 attempts including six makes in a fourth=quarter comeback bid that came up short.

That was too many for Sanders liking.

“That is too many for us. We didn’t get the ball inside at all. That’s what we talked about at halftime," Sanders said. "We stressed the importance of getting the ball inside but we didn’t do a good job of flashing in there and finding the open area."

When the Knights did try shots inside, a number of them were rejected by Hudson’s two “big men” Tyler Miller and Dave Gentry.

That duo of seniors also led the Explorers to a dominate advantage on the boards (35-19). Gentry snagged 13 misses while Miller had eight rebounds.

Hudson’s rebounding edge along with a number of press breaking lay-ins were big on this night.

Despite making just one three in 10 attempts the Explorers shot over 50 percent from the field for the game (24-of 47) to go along with 6-of 7 free throws. Nordonia ended 5-13 from the floor in close and 0-3 at the foul stripe.

Miller hit the visitors lone triple in the third quarter. The Explorers closed out a quarter, where they hit 9-12 shots, with a 10-0 spurt to take a commanding 40-25 lead into the final eight minutes of action.

Those ten points all came from point blank range.

Michael Klein began the run with a press breaking lay-up with more than half the period still to go (the 4:21 mark).

Fast break lay-ins by Gentry and Jack Whitman followed. Miller then made a spectacular play saving an offensive rebound with a behind the back pass to Klein for two more under the basket. Carter Buzzelli’s press breaking deuce off a pass from Gentry capped off the spurt.

Nordonia tried to rally in the fourth making four treys in the first 3:45 of play but with the Explorers answering every score with scores in the paint the lead was still in double figures (47-37 with 4:15 left).

The three for us two for you mentality continued until the clock ran out with Aiden Lal and Klein finishing off the win with two more fast break bunnies in the final minute.

In the fourth quarter. the hosts took just two shots in the paint and went 6-13 on threes for all 18 of their points in the stanza.

Senior guard Anthony Lee had two triples in the fourth period as did freshman Derek Occhipinti. Luke Tyukodi and Matt Hayes also canned three-balls in the last eight minutes.

For the game, Tyukodi, was one of the bright spots for Nordonia. The senior hit four threes and totaled 14 points. Hayes, a junior, added 13 points with three triples

"Luke made some big threes for us, he stepped up,” Sanders said. “He’s our leader. I tell you what; he’s a guy I would go to war with any day of the week. It was good to see him execute tonight especially since he had a tragic loss in his family last week; he lost his grandmother. It was great for him to bounce back and have a good performance.”

Hudson was paced by Miller (14 points) and Klein (13 points), a senior who played junior varsity a year ago and had just six points all year at the varsity level.

“Mike’s a really good three point shooter and when shots aren’t falling we tell the kids to attack the rim hard,” Brink explained. “He had a couple strong takes and for a guy who played basically jayvee basketball last year he has really come along way.”

Lal added eight points, Buzzelli and JD Taylor had six each and Gentry put in four points.

For Nordonia, after Tyukodi and Hayes there wasn’t much scoring from the rest of the team until Lee and Occhipinti scored six each in the final frame on threes. Occhipinti led the Knights on the glass with five boards, Joel Jones had four.