by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- The Hudson boys basketball team's student section came out in big numbers on a "red out" night for the Heart Association and a matchup with Northeast Ohio Conference rival Stow-Munroe Falls Jan. 31 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
While the Bulldogs' neon-wearing student section was outnumbered, the Stow fans were rarely out-cheered as the Bulldogs cruised to a 47-32 victory.
With the win, Stow improved to 12-4 overall and 4-2 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division. The Explorers fell to 7-7 overall and 2-5 in the division.
Bulldogs' senior forward Matt Beech led all scorers with 19 points and topped the 1,000-point milestone for his career.
"Matt Beech is one of the best players in the league," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "He has been for years. His work ethic is phenomenal."
Beech came out of the gates hot.
He hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter and outscored the Explorers himself in the frame 8-5. The Explorers' five turnovers in the period (18 for the game) also hurt Hudson.
"We had to play from behind," Brink said. "We turned the ball over four times in our first six possessions. They [the Bulldogs] are a good defensive team and you can't give away possessions to a good defensive team that is also a patient team on the offensive end."
Stow led 11-5 after the first eight minutes, 24-16 at halftime and 31-20 after three quarters. John Zuccaro led the Explorers with 13 points.
While Zuccaro was finding some free space, the Bulldogs' defense put the clamps on the inside threat of Derek Schwarz (two points) and the outside threat of Kevin Zullo (six points and just one 3 to go along with five rebounds).
"Johnny Zuccaro shot the ball well in the first half," Brink said. "Stow was trying to take away Kevin Zullo and force other guys to beat them. John did a nice job stepping up."
Although he scored just three points, Hudson guard Chris Koscho earned praise from his coach.
"Chris Koscho played his heart out and gave us everything he had in the tank," Brink said. "That's what we ask from our kids. Even in a non-winnable situation, we want to play for 32 minutes
"Even though the game was out of hand, we played until the final buzzer."
The Explorers earned a 40-30 victory in the junior varsity contest to improve to 9-5 overall and 6-1 in the River Division. Zack Meder led Hudson with 10 points.
Both the varsity and JV squads were scheduled to host NOC rival Medina Feb. 4. Results were not available at press time.
They are set to entertain NOC River Division foe Brush Feb. 7. Varsity start time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.