by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Solon -- After the Hudson boys basketball team cruised to a 54-35 victory over Solon earlier in the season at Buck Hyser Gymnasium, the Explorers were expecting more of the same.
After all, the Comets had been struggling throughout the season and were in last place in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division.
But Solon had been dangerous lately.
The Comets gave Cuyahoga Falls, Stow-Munroe Falls Brush and Twinsburg fits before losing all four of those contests.
So was an upset in the works Jan. 24 at Solon High School?
The Explorers improved to 7-6 overall and 2-4 in the River Division after posting a commanding 40-21 victory over Solon. With the loss, the Comets fell to 3-11 overall and 0-6 in the division.
Hudson jumped out to an 18-5 lead after one quarter of play and never looked back.
"They [the Comets] have played well against everyone else in the league," Explorers head coach Jeff Brink said. "Every game, other than our game, has kind of gone down to the buzzer or they have been in the game until late in the fourth quarter.
"They have played better basketball. I think our style right now is conducive to being successful against them."
In other words, Hudson has Solon's number.
These numbers said it all for the Comets: two, five and 11.6. Two is the number of two-point field goals Solon made for the entire game. Five is the total shots made if you add in the Comets' 3-of-20 effort on 3-pointers.
What about 11.6?
That was Solon's shooting percentage from the floor (5 of 43).
The Comets made 8 of 10 free throws and forced the Explorers to commit 16 turnovers. Solon, on the other hand, committed just 10 turnovers.
"The hot start was the key," Brink said. "We felt that if we came out to a strong start, it would put them behind the eight ball in terms of the tempo.
"It worked perfectly. [Brendan] Burdett and Kevin [Zullo] hit two big threes out of the gate. They got us going early."
Off a pass from Mitch Guadagni (six points and six rebounds, Burdett (eight points) got the game's first points when he buried a 3 from the left wing 12 seconds into the game.
Hudson's next touch saw Guadagni find Zullo (ten points, seven boards) open near the top of the arc for another triple and a 6-0 lead 55 seconds in.
The Comets managed two field goals, a three early and a deuce late, in the first quarter. In between, the Explorers ran off 10 unanswered points that ended with back-to-back 3s by Burdett and Zullo again.
Solon couldn't buy a basket in the buy in the basket for more than 13 minutes during the second and third quarters.
All told, the Comets missed 17 consecutive shots. Hudson led 28-11 at the break and 36-13 after three.
Derek Schwarz led the Explorers with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
"The thing that I'm most pleased with when I look at the stats sheets is they [the Comets] only had two two-point field goals," Brink said. "I am ecstatic with the defensive effort. Anytime you hold a team in the 20s, the defense has done its job."
After the 47-44 loss at Nordonia Jan. 21, Hudson needed a win.
"Coming off the loss we had, it was really good to get a win, especially in the league," Schwarz said. "We had great defense off the ball and on the ball."
The Explorers' junior varsity team suffered its first River Division loss after dropping a 37-34 decision to Solon. Zack Meder led Hudson with 14 points and Isaac McGillis added 11 points.
Both teams were scheduled to visit Eastlake North Jan. 28. Results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to host River Division rival Stow-Munroe Falls Jan. 31. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.