by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Hudson -- For the first three minutes of the game Jan. 26, Stow-Munore Falls had the Hudson girls basketball team right where it wanted it.
The Lady Bulldogs opened the game on a 9-0 run, forcing the Lady Explorers to call time-out and regroup.
The problem for Stow was simple: There were still more than 28 minutes left in the game.
Keeping Hudson down for the full 32 minutes has been an impossible proposition this season.
The Lady Explorers slowly chipped away at the Lady Bulldogs' lead and then exploded in the fourth quarter to beat Stow 48-38 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium on Senior Night.
Hudson notched its 10th straight win, improving to 15-2 overall 5-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division. Stow fell to 12-5 overall and 2-4 in the division.
Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler was quick to compliment the Bulldogs for their effort.
"Stow played a great game," he said. "Their kids played hard and they came in with a great game plan. We've had to put out some games where we've been down recently. Like I told the girls, it's really hard to win basketball games in Northeast Ohio."
Lady Bulldogs head coach Bob Podges said there were a lot of positives to take from the game, despite his team's recent losing streak to Hudson continuing.
"It's only a bad loss if we don't learn from the mistakes we made," Podges said. "The girls were acknowledging them in the locker room. We got out of kilter on offense and put up some hurried shots. That's what Hudson wants you to do."
Stow's prime mission on defense was simple: Contain Hannah Boesinger. The Youngstown State University recruit ripped the Lady Bulldogs for 20 points and 16 rebounds in their first encounter this season.
"We wanted to make certain that she didn't get offensive rebounds and that she didn't hit any threes," Podges said.
Stow was mostly successful in those efforts as Boesinger did not hit a three-pointer. Boesinger was held to 13 points, but she did have a game-high 15 rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs erupted out of the gate, led by the slashing runs of point guard Abbie Lawson. Stow broke Hudson's vaunted full-court press and made some easy baskets, along with a three-pointer from Chrissy Vaughn.
Vaughn's bucket forced Lawler to call time-out with 4 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first quarter. The Lady Explorers didn't go back to the press for the rest of the game.
Hudson got on the board, thanks to a putback layup from junior guard Jackie Ulmer, but the Lady Bulldogs still led 15-6 after one quarter.
While Stow's defense concentrated on Boesinger, foul trouble also limited the Lady Explorers' star. She picked up two fouls in the first quarter and a third in the second, forcing her to the bench.
Despite this, Hudson started to chip away in the second quarter, led by a three-pointer from another senior forward, Allison Zullo.
"We've played a game without Hannah," Lawler said. "We had some other kids step up. I think we're showing that we're not just a one-player team and that we can beat teams several different ways."
The Lady Explorers limited the Lady Bulldogs to just five points in the second quarter and cut the lead to 20-17 at the half.
Stow's defensive concentration left Hudson senior guard Brynne Drohan open. She made them pay with a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter.
The Lady Explorers took their first lead just before the third quarter ended as Ulmer scored a short jumper to make it 30-29. The quarter ended with the same score.
With the game in the balance, Ulmer and senior forward Kelly Gough keyed an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter for Hudson.
Stow was unable to recover as the Lady Explorers went to a more deliberate offense and limited the Lady Bulldogs' chances on the boards.
A three-pointer from Gough with about 2:30 left seemed like a dagger as it gave Hudson a 41-33 lead.
Forced to foul, Stow could not cut into the lead late, despite the efforts of guard Sam Shaver.
Shaver led the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points, while forward Danielle Tiller added eight points and 11 rebounds.
After scoring double doubles in her last three games, Stow forward Maddie Baer was held scoreless, though she did pull down 12 rebounds.
Hudson got 10 points apiece from Gough and Ulmer to support Boesinger.
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to return to action Jan. 30 at Aurora, followed by a trip to Valley Division rival Shaker Heights Feb. 2. Game time both nights is set for 7:30 p.m.