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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Solon -- In all likelihood, the Hudson girls basketball team faced its most talented opponent Jan. 16.
Unfortunately for the Lady Explorers, that doesn't make it any less difficult.
Hudson dropped its fifth consecutive game after losing a commanding 55-31 decision to Solon on the road. With the win, the Comets improved to 12-2 overall and 5-0 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division.
As of press time, Solon had sole possession of first place in the division after Twinsburg upset previously undefeated Stow-Munroe Falls 43-32 Jan. 16.
The Lady Explorers, on the other hand, aren't going to win the Valley Division title after dropping to 5-9 overall and 1-4 in the division.
Right now, Hudson is just trying to make sure the ship doesn't sink.
While the talented Comets' pressure defense certainly had a lot to do with it, the Lady Explorers finished with 35 turnovers and their 31 total points was their lowest total in a number of years.
"You can't give a team 35 extra possessions," Hudson head coach Dennis Lawler said. "I didn't think their [the Comets'] pressure was all that great. We just can't wait to get rid of the ball."
On a number of occasions, the Lady Explorers forced passes into traffic. There also were a number of times when they got their pockets picked.
Hudson had 19 turnovers in the first half.
The locker-room adjustments apparently didn't work.
The Lady Explorers committed 13 more miscues in the third quarter.
As of a result of all these free possessions, Solon, which had an off-night shooting, outscored Hudson 26-11 in the middle two quarters.
Of course, the Lady Explorers' defense certainly didn't match its struggles on offense.
As usual, Hudson got in the Comets' players faces and forced difficult shots and errant passes.
Solon was just 11 of 43 in the first 16 minutes. But it was extremely hard for the Lady Explorers to capitalize on such woeful shooting since it seemed like they never had the ball for more than five seconds.
"I thought our defense was good," Lawler said. "We didn't rebound as well in the first half as we liked, but we followed the game plan.
"We knew their guards could really handle the ball and we thought [Comets' senior guard] Kristen Confroy was their biggest outside threat. I thought we played as good as we could play defensively."
While Confroy didn't light up the scoreboard, she did plenty of other things that gave the Lady Explorers fits.
She had eight steals and dazzled the home crowd with her playmaking abilities.
Whenever Solon got uncontested layups in fast-break situations, Confroy usually put her passes right in her teammates' hands. Confroy finished with 12 points.
Senior forward Alexis Gray led the Comets with a game-high 14 points.
She showed off her versatility by crashing the boards and mixing it up inside, while also showing a soft touch from the perimeter.
A total of eight players scored at least two points for Solon.
Hudson, which has taken great pride in its depth for many years, had just four players score.
Senior guard Jackie Ulmer, who had very little room breathe, thanks to Solon's relentless and blanketing defense, led the Lady Explorers with 12 points.
Senior guard Margo Camp added 11 points for Hudson.
And life doesn't get much easier for the Lady Explorers.
They were scheduled to play Ironton in the Pickerington Prep Shootout Jan. 18 at Pickerington Central High School. Results were not available at press time.
Hudson is set to play Pickerington Central on the final day of the shootout Jan. 19. Game time is scheduled for 4:15 p.m.
The Lady Explorers are set to host a talented Rocky River Magnificat team Jan. 22 at Buck Hyser Gymnasium.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
"We trying to find some rhythm," Lawler said. "Since we reached the halfway point of the season, we're calling this our second season and we're now 0-1. We're just going to keep trying to get better."