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by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- It was a success.
The first annual Hudson Holiday Classic basketball tournament, which concluded Dec. 29 at Hudson High School's Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium, had nearly everything one could ask for.
The "Quad County" affair featured four boys hoops squads from four counties: Summit (Hudson), Medina (Medina), Geauga (Chagrin Falls Kenston) and Portage (Streetsboro).
It also featured two barnburner varsity battles on the final night.
In the final, Kenston came away with a thrilling 49-47 victory in the consolation game on a last-second shot over Streetsboro.
The championship game took an extra four-minute overtime session for Medina (4-4) to edge out the Explorers by a 63-62 score.
Hudson had advanced to the championship bracket with an easy 81-48 win over Streetsboro Dec. 27.
"The goal was to get four local teams," Explorers' varsity head coach Jeff Brink said. "[Hudson assistant coach Ken [Bauza] deserves a lot of props for organizing a great tournament. We would like to make this an annual event. It was definitely exciting basketball. Hopefully, we can have this become a holiday tradition for the community."
The tournament also featured the selection of a seven-player all-tournament team. On that squad were Jordan Matusik (Streetsboro), Jack Quigley and Peter Rozman (Kenston), Zack Brandy and Alex Mushock (Hudson) and Brandon Wilkins and Billy Geschke (Medina).
Geschke, with 53 points in two nights, was the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Geschke scored 25 during the Bees' 63-57 win over Kenston Dec. 27.
In the championship game, Geschke led a second-half comeback by the Bees, who trailed by as many as 20 points (32-12) in the first half, with 26 points in the second half and overtime.
Held to just two points by intermission, the 6-foot-1 senior guard repeatedly drove into the lane for scores and fouls. Geschke hit 13-of-15 free throws and made a handful of key buckets.
Geschke scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Bees trimmed a 34-17 halftime deficit to 43-41 heading into the fourth period. After making 13-of-28 from the floor in the first half (including a 7-of-10 run in a first-period 15-0 spurt), the Explorers went cold in the third quarter, hitting just 2-of-18 shots.
"We blew a big lead," Brink said. "Our shot selection was poor to start the second half. We made some mental mistakes. Those are things we have to correct."
In the fourth, Geschke scored seven more to help his squad take a 53-49 lead with 1:50 left in regulation. Zack Brandy (a team-high 23 points) answered with a driving three-point play just 10 seconds later.
Brandy added another driving bucket and added a dish to Mushock (seven points and 12 rebounds) to knot the score at 56-56 with 42 seconds left.
Hudson (5-3) had a chance to win it in regulation, but Brandy's running one-handed shot found iron at the buzzer.
In overtime, Geschke scored his team's final seven points.
A desperation heave from midcourt was off the mark and the Bees prevailed.
"Geschke had some key plays and did a great job at the free throw line," Brink said. "It was great to see kids like that [Geschke and Brandy] go toe to toe. Both of those guys had great tournaments and they are two of the best players in Northeast Ohio."
There was far less drama against Streetsboro.
Zack Brandy scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the first quarter and Kevin Zullo had eight of his 14 points in the second period.
A total of 15 players scored for the Explorers. Mushock finished with eight points and eight rebounds for Hudson. Paul Jenkins led the Rockets with a game-high 17 points.
The Explorers are scheduled to visit Northeast Ohio Conference River Division rival Stow-Munroe Falls Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m.