by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Stow -- In recent years, Stow-Munroe Falls has had its way with the Hudson boys basketball team.
Not this time.
The Explorers improved to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division after posting a convincing 45-28 victory over the Bulldogs Jan. 4 in Stow.
Prior to the game, Stow, which had won the last four meetings against Hudson, had a 33-12 record during Bulldogs head coach Dave Close's tenure. Stow also had won 17 of 23 games on its home floor since 1988.
"They've always had our number, but this year, we feel like it's our time to go in there and get a win," Explorers' senior guard Zack Brandy said.
The win not only ended the Bulldogs' dominance over Hudson, but also its advantage over Brandy as well.
The six-foot senior, who leads the Explorers in scoring hit for double digits in 40 of 51 games since becoming a starter. He had never reached double figures against Stow and had just 28 career points in four games.
This time, Brandy was able to shake loose from the always strong Bulldogs' defense to finish with a game-high 26 points.
He canned 5-of-10 three-point shots and 5-of-10 two-pointers and finished just two points short of his career-high point total.
"Brandy had a great game," Stow head coach Dave Close said. "We didn't do a very good job on him, but that's a credit to him and how he has developed himself as a basketball player. He is a nice player."
"To Zack's credit, he is one of those guys that every night has someone in his face playing physical," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "He just keeps coming, keeps coming and keeps working. He did a great job."
It looked like the Bulldogs' dominance over Hudson was going to continue early in the game.
The Explorers missed eight of their first nine shots. Fortunately for Hudson, Stow missed five of its first six shots.
Still, the Explorers led early (8-6), thanks to their work on the offensive glass. Hudson had seven offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes. The Explorers outrebounded the Bulldogs 33-21.
In the second quarter, Brandy found his shooting touch.
He buried two three-pointers in the period and also had another bucket as Hudson went into the locker room with a 20-11 lead.
Brandy continued his hot shooting in the third period, scoring all of his team's 11 points hitting. Stow (5-4, 1-2) picked it up offensively and on the boards in the second half, but the double-digit deficit was too much to overcome.
The Bulldogs made 11-of-38 shots and the Explorers knocked down 18-of-47 shots.
Matt Beech and Jacob Williams each had 12 points to lead Stow. Alex Mushock added eight rebounds for Hudson.
While he scored just three points, Ben Gedeon was a big force for the Explorers, according to Brink.
"Our kids' execution of what we prepared for was phenomenal," Brink said. "A lot of that was predicated on Ben staying out of foul trouble, staying in the game and being responsible defensively in the paint.
"The defense we built around that worked extremely well because Ben Gedeon had probably the best defensive game of his career here. He made every pass in the lane a difficult play for Stow."
Gedeon finished with 10 rebounds.
Hudson was scheduled to visit Wadsworth Jan. 8. Results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to entertain River Division rival Twinsburg Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m.