by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- Pesky.
That's one way to describe the Parma basketball team's effort against Hudson Dec. 7 at Hudson High School's Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
The Explorers improved to 1-1 on the season with a 68-67 victory over the Redmen, a Northeast Ohio Conference rival.
All signs indicated an easy Hudson victory in its first-ever trip to Parma.
The Explorers won the first meeting between the two schools a year ago by a 57-35 count at home and the Redmen came into the contest 0-2 with the latest loss coming to Medina Highland (67-35).
The tripleheader was one rout after another as the Hudson freshmen easily won by a 49-33 score and the Explorers' junior varsity team scored a 54-27 win.
The first quarter of the varsity contest showed signs of a blowout.
Hudson jumped out to a 25-13 lead at the first stop.
Just when it looked like an easy win, Parma and guard Anthony Schmook decided to make things interesting. The 5-foot-11 junior connected on 7-of-14 three-pointers on the night for a game-high 27 points to spark the Redmen's uprising. Parma not only closed the 12-point gap after one period, it took the lead by as many as five points (49-44 with 5 minutes, 50 seconds to play).
The Explorers rallied behind the outside shooting of Steve Boslet, who had a career-high 22 points, including a 6-of-13 effort on long-distance shots.
"Steve Boslet was flat out the key to our win," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "He was feeling it. He stepped up and had a great game."
Boslet came out hot, making three straight in a span of 1:51 in the opening stanza and scored 11 in the quarter. After two scoreless periods, the 6-3 senior got hot again just when the Explorers needed it most. He scored 11 again in the fourth quarter, again hitting three bombs in a row, this time in a span of just 1:12.
"I had the hot hand at times and when I wasn't feeling it, my teammates were telling me to shoot it," Boslet said. "It was a tough game. We let them stay in the game, but we stuck with it and played determined and made free throws."
Boslet's run in the fourth quarter began with Parma on top 49-44. He hit from the right wing only to see Schmook score a deuce at the other end. Undaunted, Boslet hit again from the left wing seconds later and then followed that with a triple from the top of the arc to give Hudson the lead at 53-51 with 4:24 to play.
The Redmen pulled even moments later, but the Explorers went on an 8-0 spurt that was ignited by the defense.
Ben Gedeon (10 points and eight rebounds) got the go-ahead bucket on a layup off a feed from Zack Brandy (12 points and seven assists). The defense forced three straight turnovers, including back-to-back steals by Brandy. All three miscues turned into Hudson layups. Brandy, John Zuccaro and Boslet each scored inside buckets for a 61-53 lead with 2:50 left.
Still, Parma didn't go away.
The Redmen, who were 4-of-4 on threes in the final eight minutes and 11-of-21 for the night, hit three treys in the final 1:04 to keep it close. The Explorers, who made 5-of-12 foul shots heading into the final minutes, converted 7-of-10 in the final 82 seconds to hold off the Parma rally.
Zuccaro, who scored a career-high 14 points, came through in the clutch after a rough time at the stripe the rest of the game. The 5-11 junior hit 3-of-4 from the line, including the front ends of two one-and-ones to help keep Parma at bay.
"I was 2-of-6 in the first half [2-of-7 heading into the final minutes], but late in the game at crunch time, I was 3-of-4," Zuccaro said. "Mush [Alex Mushock, who had eight points] was hitting them [2-of-4] and Zack was hitting them [2-of-2]. It came down to free throws. We let them stay in the game and gave them hope. They were knocking down shots and had a lot of confidence, but Steven was on fire and we did what we had to do."
When Mushock stepped to the line for two free throws with 15.1 seconds left, he did just what he needed to do.
It was a one-possession game at 67-64 until the 6-2 senior drained the first shot. When the second rimmed out, Parma had the ball, but time was running out. A triple with six seconds left made it 68-67 but the clock ran out on the Redmen's hopes.
"Everything was falling in for them ," Brink said. "They were basically firing them up and having fun. You're playing with fire when you're on the road and you let a team hang in there. Four guys in double digits -- that is where we need to be. Our complementary scoring was excellent."
Hudson was scheduled to host Parma Heights Normandy Dec. 11. Results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to make their NOC River Division debut against Brush Dec. 14 in Lyndhurst. The varsity contest is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.