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by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- Despite "end of the world" prophecies and then blizzard-like conditions outside Hudson High School's Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium, the boys basketball game between Hudson and Aurora went on as scheduled Dec. 21.
It didn't take long for the Explorers to take control as they jumped out to an early lead and coasted to a 68-34 decision.
Hudson had leads of 17-2 (late in the first quarter) and 19-7 at the first stoppage, 32-16 at intermission and 52-32 after three periods.
It's safe to say the Explorers were never seriously threatened in this outing.
The Greenmen fought to the end, but no matter what combination of five Hudson head coach Jeff Brink assembled on the floor, the Explorers had the upper hand. It didn't take Brink long to empty his bench.
"Our starters didn't get a ton of minutes," Brink said. "We got some extensive playing time from our bench. We played 17 guys. It was nice to see those guys get into the game and contribute."
The biggest contribution off the bench was from 6-foot-2 junior Kevin Zullo.
The three-point shooting specialist came out of an early season and finished with a career-high 18 points.
After missing his first two attempts, Zullo hit from deep late in the first half and then added another late in the third.
In the fourth, he went off.
On four straight Hudson possessions, Zullo took deep shots, from well outside the arc, and buried them. Zullo made 6-of-9 three-pointers on the evening.
"That's what Kevin does," Brink said. "He was open and made some shots. It was nice to see him get his confidence. We see that all the time in practice, but that's the first time this year, he has gone off with an explosive-type game."
Aurora's top scorer on the night, Paul Kollat, also did most of his scoring in the final eight minutes. The junior scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth.
Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for the Greenmen.
Aurora committed eight turnovers in the game's first five-plus minutes of action. Zack Brandy (12 points on the evening), Ben Gedeon (nine points and nine rebounds) and Steve Boslet (nine points) took control early on the offensive end, turning Greenmen miscues into Hudson points.
The Explorers (4-2) ran off 12 straight points in the period to stretch a 5-2 edge to 17-2.
Aurora committed five more turnovers and gave up 10 first-half rebounds on the offensive glass as Hudson had a 32-16 lead at halftime. The Explorers finished with a 37-22 advantage on the glass.
If there was any hope for the Greenmen, it disappeared early in the second half.
On its first five possessions, Aurora drew iron on its shots and Gedeon came away with all five rebounds.
"Zack took control of the game early and we wanted to get Ben involved," Brink said. "Ben had a size and strength advantage in the post and he set the tone early.
"Our post guys did a great job on the glass. Defensively, we played pretty well. Mitch [Guadagni] came in and did a great job at the defensive end. We also got to work on our man-to-man in the second half."
Guadagni finished with six points and four steals.
The Explorers are scheduled to host the Hudson Holiday Tournament Dec. 27 and 29.
The tournament is expected to feature Streetsboro, Medina and Kenston (Chagrin Falls).
Play is set to begin both days at 6 p.m.