Massillon eliminates Hudson boys basketball in 'microcosm' of season

Rob Barrone
Correspondent
Hudson's Ryan Evan fights Massillon's Ardell Banks for a rebound during the Explorers' 56-33 loss to the Tigers' Saturday.
Hudson's David Gentry looks for room through Massillon's defense during the Explorers' 56-33 loss ot the Tigers Saturday.

This end symbolized Hudson boys basketball's season in a nutshell.

The bumpy 2020-21 campaign came to an abrupt end Feb.27 at Massillon Washington. The 10th-seeded Tigers (15-8) cruised past Hudson (the 26th seed) 56-33 to advance to the district semifinal.

The Explorers (11-12) season ended the way it has gone all season: A roller coaster ride in the year of COVID-19.

After a 2-0 start the team was shut down for a month and then came back only to lose six straight. A 3-8 record through 11 games was reversed with an 8-3 mark until the finale at Massillon.

Following their 40-32 victory over Stow in the Division I sectional final, the Explorers were hoping to keep the season going with a win at Massillon but had a regular season make-up game with Orange on the slate as a back-up plan in case of a loss.

Massillon streaked out to a 33-11 halftime lead, but the Explorers fared better in the second half. The Tigers only won the second half 23-22.

“Tonight was a microcosm of our year,” Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. “It was a rough year. Logistically, it was a challenge. There was a lot of behind the scenes work that had to be done just to schedule games. We just tried to get our kids games. We feel fortunate that we were able to get 23 games in.”

On the year Hudson struggled with turnovers (14 per game) and outside shooting (3.5 triples a game).

At Massillon, that tendency was magnified.

In the first half, the Explorers turned the ball over 11 times and were 0-3 on three pointers. Hudson finished with 17 miscues and was 0-10 from three point land.,

“The kids kept fighting. Dave (Gentry) was dominant and did what he did all season, carrying us,” Brink said.

Gentry had a game-high 20 points.

“It was unfortunate that our season had to end like that. It was kind of a step back to where we were when we were 3-8," Brink said. "Turnovers, sloppy play, didn’t make shots early …it was all of the things that we have been better at the last two or three weeks. It was unfortunate that it reared up and bit us tonight."

The Tigers took it to Hudson early, getting second chance buckets on two of their first three possessions. The Explorers turned the ball over on their first three touches to fall behind 6-0.

Gentry, a senior forward, got Hudson on the scoreboard when he took and made his team’s first field goal try. His jumper from the left elbow came at the 4:02 mark of the first period.

While Hudson struggled to get shots off and convert them the hosts had very little trouble making 7-10 in the first frame and scoring on ten of thirteen possessions with three turnovers.

The Tigers were 3-5 on threes in the opening period and led 18-7 after the first horn with Nick Leibler draining a triple as it went off.

Hudson was 3-5 from the field in the quarter but trailed by eleven. Gentry had five points in the first quarter with Michael Klein getting the other deuce.

Massillon continued where it left off in the second quarter scoring the first eleven points of that stanza.

Senior Grant Haynem hit two treys at the end of that run. The senior ended with four three-pointers and 12 points matching Ardell Banks for team scoring honors.

Ryan Evans and Isaiah Powell scored late buckets to end the Tiger spurt, but the hosts were on top 33-11 at the break.

It took some time, but the visitors scored back-to-back buckets to start the second half as Gentry hit from the foul line and then on a lay-up off a feed from Tyler Miller.

However, those baskets came three minutes and three seconds apart. Massillon went 0-5 from the floor in that span.

Gentry put up eight points in the third period with Carter Buzzelli scoring as well. Gentry got the assist on that score as well.

Hudson trailed 45-21 after three. Gentry and Miller (four points) did the bulk of the scoring in the fourth period with freshman Tino Yli-Junilla tacking on a free throw in the final seconds.

Brink praised the senior class that includes Gentry, Miller, Powell, Klein, JD Taylor, Jonathan Cosentino and Jack Whitman.

“It’s a great group; I love those guys. It’s always difficult when you get to your last game to say goodbye,” Brink said. “A lot of these guys I’ve known since they were in fifth or sixth grade. I’ve seen them grow up. These relationships they build are invaluable.”

With 620 career points, Gentry finished 20th on Hudson’s all-time scorers list over 103 seasons of basketball. Miller ended 59th with 459 points.