by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Copley -- Zero, nothing, nada.
No matter how you say it, the Hudson boys basketball team struggled mightily against Medina Highland in a Division I sectional title game March 2 at Copley High School.
Despite missing all 15 of their three-point attempts, the third-seeded Explorers prevailed with a 35-33 victory to advance to a district semifinal contest.
Hudson is set to play Stow-Munroe Falls March 7 at 7 p.m.
Stow, the ninth seed in the tournament, advanced with a 63-57 triple-overtime victory over Twinsburg.
The Explorers (19-4) won their 12 straight game after rallying for a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Hudson, which had made at least one three-pointer in its last 49 games and had 143 for the season, also shot just 9-of-17 from the free throw line.
"It's not a beauty pageant and that sure wasn't Miss Ohio out there," Explorers head coach Jeff Brink said. "It was one of those nights. I kept telling our guys sooner or later we're going to make some shots. I'm just glad to get that first one out of the way. We found a way to win and we keep playing."
Hudson prevailed, thanks to its rebounding and defense at crunch time. The Explorers held the Hornets to 30-percent shooting from the floor (12-of-40) and forced three turnovers in the final 3 minutes, 21 seconds to spark the comeback. Hudson also rebounded by committee, pulling down 38 rebounds to 19 for the Hornets.
"We cranked it up defensively," Brink said. "The defensive pressure we applied in the fourth was pivotal and I thought our job on the glass was tremendous."
Highland seemed in control with its slow-down tactics for the second time against the Explorers, who earned a 37-33 win over the Hornets in January. Highland led 24-20 early in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets then came up with what could have been the biggest play of the game.
A long bounce on a Hudson miss was tracked down by a diving Brennan Scott. An alert tip-out to teammate Tanner Houska ended in an easy fast-break layup and a 26-20 score with 5:21 to play.
The Explorers missed their next three shots, but began a comeback with 3:55 left. Ben Gedeon (11 points and seven rebounds, six of which came in the final 6:08) was fouled putting back a miss. The 6-foot-3 senior made the first, but missed the second free throw. But Gedeon grabbed his own miss and put it back for a backwards three-point play.
"We didn't have Ben the first time we played them," Hudson senior Zack Brandy said. "He is such a benefit opening up opportunities and gaps for us."
After Brandy, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds, split two foul shots to cut Highland's leads to a deuce (26-24), the Explorers' full-court pressure began to take its toll on the Hornets.
Steve Boslet got his only points after a Highland miscue and the score was knotted at 26-26 with 2:24 on the clock. Hudson eventually took the lead (30-28) for good when John Zuccaro, who had seven rebounds found Alex Mushock in the paint for an easy basket with 1:07 left. Mushock finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
"They [the Hornets] had a great scheme," Gedeon said. "We kept our composure and stuck with it. We turned it on defensively when we needed to at the end of the game."