by Rob Barrone | Correspondent
Hudson -- Last season, it was Shaker Heights.
This season, it was Medina.
"It" refers to a signature victory. On Feb. 4 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium, the Hudson boys basketball team got a win that the players could one day share with their grandchildren.
And maybe, just maybe, it's a sign of things to come.
The Explorers improved to 8-7 on the season after earning a 55-51 win over Northeast Ohio Conference rival Medina. The Bees fell to 13-3 on the season.
Last season, Hudson stunned NOC foe Shaker Heights 67-65 at Hyser Gymnasium.
That same Shaker team advanced to Division I regional play.
"We talked about the Shaker game before the game and we said, 'It's the same thing,'" Explorers head coach Jeff Brink said. "We've got to shock the world.
"Nobody in the gym and probably very few people outside of our locker room gave us a chance to win.
"That team has beaten the best teams in Northeast Ohio. We feel very fortunate to come out and get a W over a team of that caliber."
Four players reached double digits in scoring for Hudson.
Kevin Zullo knocked down five 3-pointers on his way to 15 points and Derek Schwarz also had a season-best 15 points.
Brendan Burdett and Mitch Guadagni added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Guadagni also had seven rebounds.
The 6-foot-5 Schwarz scored eight points in the first quarter as the Explorers took a 15-8 lead. He made all four of his attempts in the period.
"That was Derek Schwarz's best game ever," Brink said.
Schwarz scored most of his points against Medina's 6-10 center, Jon Teske, who finished with just two points and seven rebounds.
"I just took it as a personal challenge because I'm usually so much taller than everyone else I play," Schwarz said.
"When somebody else is taller than me, it hypes me up.
"This was my Shaker. Last year, I didn't get in. It's the underdog story I'm going to be talking about for a while."
Hudson went on an 11-2 run to take a 26-12 lead in the second quarter.
"Our ability to break pressure was huge," Brink said. "Mitch Guadagni was key in the first quarter."
Medina cut its deficit to eight (28-20) by halftime, thanks to Craig Randall, who scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the first 16 minutes.
It was Burdett's turn to shine for the Explorers in the third quarter.
He scored eight points in the period and Hudson led 43-36 going into the final quarter.
The Explorers had an answer for every Medina challenge.
When Randall hit his fourth triple of the game to open the fourth-quarter scoring, Zullo responded. The 6-3 guard hit his fifth 3 just 14 seconds later.
On Hudson's next possession, reserve Chris Koscho recovered a teammate's errant pass just inches from the midcourt stripe and somehow tip-toed the line to avoid a backcourt turnover call.
Adding to the importance of the play, Koscho then turned up court and drove down the left side of the lane.
He found Guadagni for an easy layup and a nine-point lead (48-39) with 6 minutes, 13 seconds to play.
At the 3:42 mark, Burdett scored on a huge putback, making the score 51-40.
But the Bees didn't go away.
Trailing 54-51 late in the game, Randall's 3-point attempt found iron and Guadagni got the rebound.
Burdett made 1 of 2 foul shots to seal the deal.
The Explorers had a 27-22 edge on the glass.
"We fought the whole game," Zullo said. "No one expected us to win, but we came out on top. This was just awesome."
"This is a huge win for our program," Brink said.
"We showed that even when we are having a 7-7 year, on a given night, we can still step up and play with the big boys."
Hudson earned a 49-47 victory in the junior varsity contest. Zack Meder scored a game-high 23 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7 seconds left.
The varsity and JV teams were scheduled to host NOC River Division foe Brush Feb. 7. Results were not available at press time.
They are set to visit NOC rival North Royalton Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m.