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HUDSON -- With victories tough to come by thus far in the 2016-17 season, the Hudson boys basketball team hopes to seize every opportunity when it comes up.
When the Explorers hosted Akron Kenmore Jan. 17, they had aspirations that this could be a game that could be added to the win column.
Last season's 45-44 squeaker over the Cardinals along with a 78-38 annihilation of the Kenmore junior varsity team lifted those expectations.
Unfortunately, those expectations were not met.
Hudson dropped to 4-7 on the season after losing to the Cardinals at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
Prior to the game, the Explorers had issues with turnovers and poor shooting. Hudson committed 15 turnovers against Kenmore (7-3), which won its fifth straight game, and struggled with its shooting touch once again.
The Explorers shot just 32 percent (18-of-55) overall and 30 percent (10-of-30) in the paint.
"Defensively, they (the Cardinals) had 49 points," Hudson head coach Jeff Brink said. "That's where we need to be. Our difficulties were at the offensive end.
"When you give up 49 points, you expect to win. When you are 10-for-30 inside the paint, you are not going to win high school basketball games. You can't win missing that many bunnies. We continue to work to get layups but we're missing them. We have to continue to work on execution."
Still, despite their shooting woes, the Explorers' hard work and hustle kept the game close. With a 31-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Cardinals threatened to pull away with a 9-2 spurt.
At the end of the run, Hudson showed life with a five-shot possession, thanks to three offensive rebounds by Alex Beck and one by Spencer McClure. Unfortunately, the possession came up empty as all five shots found iron.
Facing a 40-31 deficit, the Explorers roared back with six straight points. Greg Mailey hit the first of his three fourth-quarter 3-pointers and on the next possession, Jackson Parker (7 points) got three points the old fashioned way with a layup and free throw. At that point, it was a one-possession game (40-37) and Hudson had the ball.
That's when things fell apart.
A partially blocked triple attempt by the Explorers was rebounded by Kenmore. At the other end with 1 minute, 31 seconds left, the Cardinals took a 3 of their own and Hudson fouled.
Kenmore's Cameron Brown (8 points) hit all three charity tosses. That started a 9-0 run in a 57-second span to give the Cardinals a comfortable 49-37 advantage.
"We were chipping back into it," Brink said. "It never really got away from us, until the end there, but it never felt like we were in position. We were always kind of digging ourselves out."
Adding to the Explorers 'woes was a lack of free-throw attempts. Parker's late foul shot was the team's only attempt all night.
Kenmore, which was 10-of-13 from the charity stripe, converted 7-of-7 in the final minutes.
McClure hit for double figures for the fourth straight game with 15 points. That happens to be his average over that four-game span.
"Spencer has been consistent," Brink said. "He is doing his part. He has gone 13, 19, 13, 15 over the last four games. We need some other guys to step up."
Greg Mailey buried three 3-pointers on his way to 9 points for Hudson. Demond Taylor and Thomas Woods each had 13 points for Kenmore.
The Explorers cruised to a 61-26 win in the junior varsity game.
Daniel Baerentzen led Hudson with 14 points and Jack Burdett added 10 points.
The Explorers were scheduled to visit Suburban League National Conference rival Brecksville-Broadview Heights Jan. 20. Results were not available at press time.
Hudson is set to entertain Youngstown Boardman Jan. 24. Varsity tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.