Hudson boys basketball ends slide by beating Howland

Rob Barrone
Correspondent

In a last minute pick-up Jan. 27, Warren Howland accepted an offer to come to Ray “Buck” Hyser Gymnasium to take on a beleaguered Explorer squad on their home court.

Hudson's Ryan Evan bring the ball up the floor.

The Explorers were grateful for the opportunity.

Having not won a game in over seven weeks, Hudson finally tasted victory 55-38. The win snapped a six-game losing streak and lifted the club’s record to 3-6. Howland dipped to 4-6.

“We just needed a spark to kind of break the ice. It’s been a tough go,” Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. “The kids just needed something positive; they were working really hard. We were 2-0 and then we were shut down for a month. It really hurt us but we can only control what we can control.”

As it turned out Howland was what the Explorers needed.

The Tigers do not have much size and Hudson took advantage with it’s to big men both hitting for double figures. Tyler Miller led all scorers with 16 points and senior classmate Dave Gentry recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 boards.

“When we got back from the COVID-19 quarantine we had a rough time getting the cardio back while other teams were playing the whole time,” Gentry said. “We lost a couple that we should have won but we just didn’t have the stamina that we needed. That just carried on to the next and the next and the next game."

The Explorers still struggled, as they have all year, shooting from outside (4-20) but they made up for that with very strong inside play and defense. The Tigers had a tougher time shooting the deep ball than the hosts making just two of 14 tries.

“Defensively we did a pretty good job tonight too. When you’re throwing game plans on the fly without practice we were able to do what we wanted to do. They have a couple legit scorers and we kept them in check,” Brink said.

After nine games the season stats suggest the Explorers did what they needed to win by taking the first quarter. In those nine games Hudson is 3-0 when they come out on top after one period and 0-6 when the opposition wins the frame.

On this night Hudson led 15-12 after one. The 15 points was a season’s best first quarter effort.

Miller got things started off in the right direction with a put-back score early. The Explorers ended the night with 16 second chance points and 12 offensive rebounds. The locals out-rebounded the smaller Tigers 37-22.

Miller scored again on a short baseline jumper moments later and Jack Whitman made the score 6-0 with a break away lay-up.

Whitman scored a career high seven points in his first career start. With Aiden Lal in street clothes and the team looking for a spark Brink had three new starters join Miller and Gentry at the opening tip.

Whitman, Isaiah Powell and Carter Buzzelli got the nods and got the team off to a good start. The bench was also big adding 19 points to the scoring column as a season high eight Explorers cracked the scoring column.

“Our rotation was pretty good. We're trying get different line-ups in …mix it up,” Brink explained. “Isaiah has been a great soldier for us. He is so supportive of his teammates he thought he deserved an opportunity to start for

us. He gives us quality, physical minutes in the paint. Then you’ve got guys off the bench; Tino (Yli-Junilla) comes in and bangs a couple threes. Whitman stepped in and had a couple key buckets and JD (Taylor) was solid for us.”

Taylor also had a career best seven points while the freshman, Yli-Junilla, had six points. Ryan Evans, Jonathan Cosentino and Michael Steel each had two points coming off the pines.

While Hudson won the first quarter it was not game-set-match. The Tigers roared back from a 15-6 deficit with eight straight points and put together a 13-2 run to take it’s only lead at 19-17 with 4:42 left in the second quarter. Yli-Junilla ended the run with his first triple of the game. Gentry followed with a three-point play inside and Steel scored inside.

The Explorers led 25-21 at intermission.

Gentry hit three straight Hudson buckets to start the second half. Miller rolled in a three, Evans dropped a pair of free throws and Whitman added a charity toss to build a 37-26 advantage with two minutes left in the third period.

The teams exchanged scores early in the fourth as Hudson wouldn’t let the Tigers string any points together. Yli-Junnila’s second trey, Gentry’s second jam of the game and a late tip in by Cosentino iced the win.