Hudson boys basketball rolls past Twinsburg

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Hudson's Jonathan Cosentino looks for room around Twinsburg's  Dante' Yarbrough during the Explorers' 54-30 home win Saturday
Hudson's Jack Whitman shoots a three during the Explorers' 54-30 home win over Twinsburg Saturday

It’s been a tough go so far in the 2020-21 boys basketball season for Hudson and Twinsburg.

When the two finally met up Saturday at Hudson’s Ray “Buck” Hyser Gymnasium, each team was teetering on a 10-loss campaign.

The Explorers improved to 5-9 on the year and 2-4 in the Suburban League with a 54-30 victory. The Tigers dropped to 3-10 and 1-5 in National Conference action.

Both teams have had their shooting woes, but the hosts were able to connect on their shots while Twinsburg struggled.

The Tigers missed their first four shots from the floor and could never get going making just 13-46 shots on the night (28 percent). The visitors could not buy a three-pointer making just 2-22.

“You have to be able to score some points. We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight. We had wide open shots that we missed, but the kids are giving it their best and they’re working on their shooting,” Tigers coach Phil Schmook.

Meanwhile, the Explorers hit 44 percent from the field making 20-45. Those numbers include a 4-11 effort from downtown. After shooting under 20 percent on threes through 11 games Hudson has heated up a degree or two in its last three outings making a combined 18-38 triples in that span (47 percent).

On Friday, Hudson had a last-minute collapse against Medina Highland and lost 50-48.

“We could have won three in a row. We played a really solid game against Lakeview, played about 27 or 28 really good minutes against Highland and played a really good game tonight; we are starting to put things together,” Hudson coach Jeff Brink pointed out. “We’re showing strides in the right direction.”

“You could say we are hitting mid-season form in February,” Brink’s varsity assistant Bruce Thomas said.

It was Senior Night at Hudson as all seven seniors (Jonathan Cosentino, Dave Gentry, Michael Klein, Tyler Miller, Isaiah Powell, JD Taylor and Jack Whitman) saw first quarter action. They combined to score 42 points.

The Explorers were missing three of their top four point guards (for a variety of reasons) for the game against Twinsburg and came in concerned about the Tigers relentless full court pressure.

The answer to the pressure came from last year’s strategy of having their post bring the ball up court against the press. Last season it was, then senior, Jack Burdett who handled the assignment. Against the Tigers Gentry took on the chore.

“Dave was phenomenal tonight in taking a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. We basically gave him the ball and said break the press,” Brink explained. “It was a little bit tougher in the second half, they started running some traps.”

The Tigers forced 15 turnovers including nine steals but the changes of possession didn’t help the visitors cause. Twinsburg did score nine points after turnovers but they needed a lot more to keep pace with Hudson.

“When we put a little bit of pressure on and got a steal or made a play to get the ball back it was negated because we missed a lay-up, missed a shot or turned it over. All the good things we did on defense were negated. We have to be able to put the ball in the basket when we have opportunities,” Schmook said.

When the Tigers opened the night missing their first four shots and adding in a turnover on their first five possessions the hosts took a quick 7-0 lead.

Whitman capped that 7-0 spurt making a three-pointer at the four-minute mark. Whitman, who is one of the big reasons for Hudson’s improved shooting, would go on to score a career high ten points. He had a team high seven threes over the last three games.

Twinsburg didn’t hit its first bucket until the 1:20 mark of the first quarter when Brennan Hopp canned a three to make the score 9-7 Hudson. The Explorers pushed the lead to 15-7 after one, but the Tigers fought back.

The visitors stole the ball on four straight Hudson possessions to start the second quarter. At the other end Reggie Bussey scored back to back buckets and David Coniglio added a deuce to make it a two-point game again (15-13).

Hudson answered the bell. Sophomore guard Jagger Pallay came off the bench to drill a triple and added a pair of free throws to close out an 11-0 spurt by the Explorers.

Gentry added a pair of baskets and Taylor scored off a pass from Gentry. Gentry ended with a game high 11 points, Pallay ended with those five points and Taylor had four. Klein had eight points and Miller chipped in with seven.

Bussey led the Tigers with seven points. Roman Sims and Coniglio had six points each.

Hudson led 30-17 at intermission. The Tigers forced three turnovers to start the second half but came up empty at the other end. With Whitman scoring five points the Explorers scored the first eight points of the half as the game got away from the visitors at 38-17.

Brink was able to empty his bench early as he gave sophomore Nathan Miller a chance to be on the court with his older brother, Tyler. The script was perfect as Nathan scored his first varsity points drilling a three from the left corner; off a pass from Tyler.

The Explorers led 44-23 after here and coasted in to the victory.

“If the ball doesn’t drop there is nothing you can do. For the most part we played adequate defense but offensively we are just not scoring points,” Schmook said. “The only way to correct it is to put the ball through the basket.”

Against Highland the locals seemingly had the win wrapped up with a four-point lead (46-42) and the ball with 90 seconds to play. The Hornets had just committed their fourth team foul of the half with 1:35 to play and needed to get some quick fouls to put Hudson at the foul line and hope for missed one and ones or get steals.

. Two quick steals led to two breakaway lay-ups and suddenly the score was tied at 46-46 with 1:04 to go.

The Explorers looked for the last shot, but Highland stole the ball again with 37 seconds to go. Fortunately for Hudson, a last second three-point shot sent the game to overtime.

In the four-minute extra session the hosts turned the ball over two more times for 15 total miscues on the night. Gentry got Hudson’s only points when he tied the game at 48-48 with 1:37 to go on a drive to the hoop.

The Hornets’ Aaron Filips spinning bucket with 44 seconds left would be the difference. Filips led the visitors with 18 points.

Highland (11-6 on the year) stole the ball again in the final seconds of overtime to secure the win.

Gentry led Hudson with a career high tying 21-point night. It was his second straight 20-plus point night having put up 20 against Lakeview two days prior.

The game was tight throughout featuring one tie and six lead changes in the first eight minutes. Highland led 13-12 after one stop.

The visitors led 26-24 at the half, but the hosts won the third period and led 37-32 after three. By nights end the contest had six ties and 12 lead changes.

Whitman and Taylor backed Gentry with six points each.