by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Lyndhurst -- Brush has the Explorers' number.
The Hudson boys basketball team hasn't had a lot of success when it comes to playing Northeast Ohio Conference River Division rivals.
Since the two schools became divisional adversaries during the 2005-06 season (in the now defunct Western Reserve Conference), the Arcs owned a 12-2 mark against the Explorers
Brush continued its recent success against the Explorers with a 75-65 win Dec. 14 in Lyndhurst.
Facing the Arcs (3-2, 1-0) is always a challenge and playing without three-year starter and Michigan football recruit Ben Gedeon (in Ann Arbor for Michigan's official visit day) would make it tougher.
Senior Colin Hogan made his first start, taking Gedeon's spot in the lineup, but just 71 seconds into the game, the Explorers lost another starter.
Steve Boslet (14.7 points per game coming in) tried to draw a charge and went down hard.
The 6-foot-3 senior suffered a concussion and did not return. Hudson reserve Ian Laver also suffered an injury late in the third quarter. Both players' status was unknown at press time.
"When you lose a guy like Steve Boslet and take Ben out of there, you're giving up a lot of points out of your lineup," Explorers head coach Jeff Brink noted. "We will not make excuses. The standard doesn't change. Regardless of who takes the floor when you're wearing a Hudson jersey ... we expect to win."
The Arcs got off to a quick start and showed no signs of letting up through three quarters.
Brush jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes and made 10-of-15 shots in the first quarter for a 27-9 lead at the first stoppage. Brush's 3-of-6 effort on three-pointers in the first period was duplicated in the second quarter as well.
Meanwhile, the Explorers (2-2, 0-1) came out of the gates slowly.
They made just 4-of-17 shots in the first quarter and were outrebounded 15-4 in those eight minutes. The second quarter saw gradual improvement. Three-point shooting specialists Kevin Zullo (nine points on three triples) and Alex Albright (eight points) helped keep it closer, but Brush led 49-26 at the half.
The Explorers continued to battle in the third quarter, but the Arcs hit their shots, going 9-of-14 in the frame and 29-of-55 for the game, including 8-of-19 on three balls. Brush led 69-40 heading into the final eight minutes.
Hudson did not throw in the towel. Led by Zack Brandy (who had been limited to eight points through three by Brush's box-and-one defense) and Alex Mushock, the Explorers began to claw away at the Arcs' lead.
On the first touch of the final eight minutes, Mushock scored after grabbing one of his team-high nine rebounds. In the next minute of play, the 6-2 senior twice found Brandy for three-pointers. Seconds later, Brandy, who had team highs with 17 points, six assists and three steals, returned the favor, finding Mushock inside for two points. The 10-0 spurt in just 1:29 closed the gap to 69-50.
There was still a long way to go, but the fight continued.
Despite missing their next six shots, the Explorers kept hopes alive. Brandy hit a driving shot and then found John Zuccaro (11 points) inside for two more (69-54 with four minutes left). Brush's Brandon Dawson (a team-high 17 points) ended Brush's scoreless streak with a bucket with 3:23 to play.
The Explorers continued to battle.
With 2 minutes, 21 seconds left, Brink emptied his bench, but the fight wasn't over.
Hudson forced 11 Brush turnovers in the fourth quarter and 22 for the game compared to the Explorers' 12 miscues. The reserves continued to scratch away at the deficit until the end.
"People looking at the box score will say, 'They made up some ground playing against their jayvees,'" Brink said. "We subbed at the 2:21 mark and they didn't sub until the 58-second mark, so we basically had our jayvees playing against their ones and we still made up ground. We couldn't get the shots when we needed them [just 25-for-74 for the game] but we kept battling."
Hudson was scheduled to visit River Division rival Cuyahoga Falls Dec. 18. Results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to entertain Aurora Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m.