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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- They made an immediate impact with their defense and their coach was back on the sideline.
Yes, life is good for the Lady Explorers.
The host Hudson girls basketball team won its seventh straight game after posting a convincing 61-42 victory over Austintown Fitch Jan. 12 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
It was the second time the Lady Explorers got the best of the Lady Falcons. Hudson earned a 73-54 win over Fitch Dec. 29 in Austintown.
It didn't take long for the latest contest to go in the Lady Explorers' favor.
Hudson (12-2) forced 14 turnovers in the first quarter and led 25-13.
The Lady Explorers, who led by as many as 23 (52-29) at one point, never looked back.
And it was a welcome sight for Hudson fans to see Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler shouting instructions to his players.
Lawler missed the previous game to be with his wife Jennifer, who was ill.
Lawler said Jennifer recently came home from the hospital and was doing well.
Lawler also welcomed back guard/forward Allison Zullo, who had not played since she suffered a sprained ankle during the first half of the Lady Explorers' 64-56 win over Mentor Jan. 5. Zullo, who did not start, finished with five points.
"It was great to see her back," Lawler said. "She was only supposed to play a few minutes. The trainer said she was good to go and she wound up playing a lot of minutes."
Hudson set the tone early, thanks to its defense.
The Lady Explorers made life miserable for Fitch's ball-handlers with their relentless full-court pressure.
Whenever the Lady Falcons (10-3) had the ball, a bevy of Hudson defenders surrounded her in every corner. As a result, Fitch had trouble getting the ball past midcourt. And that meant easy buckets for the Lady Explorers.
"I thought we did a good job in the first quarter," Lawler said. "They came out with a lot of energy."
If Hudson wasn't getting easy layups off turnovers, the Lady Explorers were moving the ball and draining open shots.
Not surprisingly, Hudson's most dangerous player led the way.
Senior forward Hannah Boesinger had another strong all-around game with a game-high 22 points, seven rebounds, six steals, four assists and two blocked shots.
Junior guard Jackie Ulmer has been a reliable No. 2 option of late.
Ulmer's catch-and-shoot jumpers gave the Lady Explorers a huge lift in the game. She finished with 17 points and four steals despite playing out of position.
Ulmer, normally a shooting guard, saw some time at the point because senior point guard Kelly Gough was in foul trouble.
"Jackie had a nice game," Lawler said. "She really crashed the boards and kept plays alive. It was the most physical game she played."
A total of eight players scored at least two points for Hudson. Junior guard Margo Camp finished with eight points and 6-foot-2 center Krissy Mummey had six points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
But the Lady Explorers' recipe for success over the last several years has been their defense. Hudson had 19 steals against Fitch. Lawler said the key was containing junior 5-foot-9 Megan Sefcik.
"She was averaging more the 20 points a game," Lawler said. "We wanted to make her give it up and double her every time she had the ball."
A number of Lady Explorers held Sefcik to just four points. Sarah Melfe led the Lady Falcons with 11 points and Cassie Custer and Aaliyah Sadler each had 10 points.
Hudson also posted a 45-18 win in the junior varsity contest. Megan Monsman led the Lady Explorers with nine points.
Hudson is scheduled to entertain Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division rival Medina Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m.