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by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- Live or die by the three-point shot?
Not necessarily, but both the Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson boys basketball teams have displayed strong outside shooting thus far.
Unfortunately for the Explorers, there was no stopping the Black Tigers Jan. 10.
Hudson fell to 5-4 overall and 1-3 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division after losing a 68-55 decision to Falls at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
The Black Tigers, who made 10 three-pointers on the evening, earned sole possession of first place in the River Division.
Falls improved to 7-2 overall and 4-0 in the division. Brush, which was tied with the Black Tigers entering Jan. 10, fell to 3-1 in the division after losing a 52-50 decision to Stow-Munroe Falls.
"We can shoot the ball pretty well as a team to begin with," Falls head coach Rob Slone explained. "Those kids, on any given night, can shoot like that.
"On any given night, though, they can go 6 for 26 from the arc. It's one of those things. It's feast or famine.
"Sometimes you live by it, sometimes you die by it, but I thought our shot selection was really good."
It sure was.
The Black Tigers converted 63 percent of its three-point shots and 64 percent shots inside the arc.
Falls also shot 71 percent from the free throw line.
Explorers head coach Jeff Brink was not surprised by the Black Tigers' torrid shooting performance.
"We have seen them play several times and know what they are capable of doing," he said.
"On a given night, they are capable of shooting like that and they did. When a team makes 10 threes, you have to tip your hat to them."
Hudson also had a very respectable shooting percentage until the final minutes when the Explorers hurried shots in an attempt to come back and ended 24 of 57 from the floor.
Hudson made 5 of 8 from outside the arc through three quarters but was 0 of 10 from there in the final frame, including six misses in the last 100 seconds.
"It got a little hectic at the end," Brink said. "We kind of rushed and took some poor shots.
"The other 29 minutes, our execution was pretty impressive. We got great shots, we shot a lot of layups, but we missed too many. You can't give away opportunities.
"Offensively, we got the shots we wanted and took care of the ball for the most part [only eight turnovers to 10 for Falls]."
The Explorers had a 29-19 edge on the glass.
While Slone was happy with his team's shooting and the final result, he was impressed with Hudson as well.
"I honestly think we got outworked," he said. "He [Brink] has got those kids playing really hard and he always does. They got every loose ball down the stretch when they needed to. They got I don't know how many offensive rebounds."
The Explorers finished with 17 offensive rebounds.
The Black Tigers were just about unguardable in the second quarter.
Falls made seven of its eight shots in the period, including 4 of 4 from beyond the three-point arc. The Black Tigers had a 29-25 lead at halftime.
Trailing 21-17, Falls got two threes apiece from guards Jay Slone and Josh Ricker after a Hudson steal and breakaway turned into a missed layup, a missed tip-in attempts and a missed three.
Ricker's second three gave the Black Tigers a 26-23 advantage. Falls never lost the lead the rest of the way.
The Explorers made 7 of 11 shots in the third quarter and when Kyle Ator hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the corner, Falls' lead was just (45-41).
Hudson got no closer.
The Black Tigers went on a 7-0 run to open the fourth period and Ricker sealed the deal by making all four of his free throw attempts down the stretch.
Jay Slone led all scorers with 20 points and Ricker added 17 points.
Forward Angelo Cugini made 7 of 12 shots to finish with 14 points and eight rebounds for Falls, which snapped a three-game losing streak against the Explorers.
Guard Kevin Zullo led Hudson with nine points and guards Mitch Guadagni, Chris Koscho and John Zuccaro each had eight points for the Explorers. Guadagni also had eight rebounds.
Hudson earned a 36-24 victory in the junior varsity contest. Jackson Hickert led the Explorers with eight points.
Hudson is scheduled to visit River Division rival Twinsburg Jan. 17.
The Explorers are set to return home to play Pepper Pike Orange Jan. 18. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. both games.