by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Akron -- After a memorable 12-game winning streak, it seemed like the Hudson girls basketball team's aura of invincibility completely vanished.
The Lady Explorers dropped their last three games and didn't look look especially sharp in their first two playoff games.
In fact, an upset might have been inevitable, especially with a very talented Walsh Jesuit team next on the list.
Fortunately for Hudson fans, their team looked more like its old self in its most important game of the season.
The Lady Explorers advanced to a Division I district title game after posting a hard-fought 70-64 victory over the Warriors Feb. 28. With the win, Hudson (20-5) earned a date with top-seeded and defending two-time state champion Twinsburg (25-0) March 2. Results of that game were not available at press time.
In a game that featured nonstop action, big shot after big shot and vicious intensity throughout the evening, the Lady Explorers prevailed over a very resilient Walsh team.
When it was all said and done, a certain senior forward wasn't going to let her team lose.
Her name is Hannah Boesinger.
The standout Hudson forward finished with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Explorers. She scored 16 points in the second half and had a knack for getting key rebounds and hitting huge baskets when the Lady Explorers needed her most.
"Every game at Ellet is a do-or-die game," Boesinger said. "Walsh has an amazing team. All of just kind of realized that we didn't want to lose."
At times, Hudson seemed to have the game in hand.
The Lady Explorers built a double-digit lead in the second and third quarters only to have the Warriors (17-8) answer.
Time and time again, Walsh had a knack for digging itself out of jams when the game appeared to be getting away from the Warriors.
But Hudson welcomed those challenges.
When Walsh junior guard Rachel Keough buried a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Lady Explorers' advantage to a deuce (63-61) with less than three minutes left, Hudson finally put it away with four straight points.
Lady Explorers' senior point guard Kelly Gough converted a difficult bank shot off the dribble in traffic and Boesinger added two clutch free throws.
Hudson's defense did the rest as the Warriors, despite holding their own on the boards against theirt taller opponents, had trouble getting open looks.
"The girls are resilient," Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler said. "They [the Warriors] hit shots that kept them in the game. But I think we got them a little tired . We were able to hit some big free throws down the stretch."
The free throw line may have been the difference in the game. While Hudson practically lived at the charity stripe, Walsh had trouble drawing contact. The Lady Explorers made 15-of-27 foul shots, while the Lady Warriors were just 7-of-13.
Turnovers also hurt Walsh.
Although the Warriors had just four miscues in the final 16 minutes, their 15 first-half giveaways allowed Hudson to take a 33-25 into the locker room.
But Walsh managed to hang with the Lady Explorers despite its trouble with Hudson's full-court pressing and trapping defense.
When the Warriors didn't lose the ball, they swished open jumpers. If their shots found iron, they usually got the rebound. Walsh had 10 offensive rebounds at halftime.
Two Warriors in particular, sophomore foward Lilli Piper and senior guard Jess Gilberto, gave the Lady Explorers the most fits on the glass. Piper, despite scoring just five points, led all players with 13 rebounds. Gilberto finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
"We're not rebounding well," Lawler said. "I thought we rebounded better in the second half."
Gilberto, along with senior forward Sophia Simone, kept Walsh in the game with their outside shooting. Gilberto's pure stroke led to 17 points, which included a trio of three-pointers. Simone did most of her scoring a few feet inside the three-point arc on her way to a team-high 20 points.
Thankfully for Hudson, it had plenty of scoring too.
Junior guard Jackie Ulmer, who has a been a dangerous shooter throughout the season, knocked down critical shots on her way to 16 points.
And if the perimeter shot wasn't available, the Lady Explorers could always go to their 6-2 post player. Junior forward Krissy Mummey, the tallest player on the floor, befuddled the Warriors' defense with her fancy footwork and ability to convert in the low post. Mummey finished with 12 points.
Gough added nine points and provided the tough defense and clutch scoring despite an ankle injury.
"Kelly tweaked her ankle in the second quarter," Lawler said. "She does a lot without scoring."
Hudson lost both its game by double digits during the regular season, but Lawler certainly welcome another opportunity against the defending state champs.
"This is why you put the uniform on," he said.