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Stow dominates glass and Explorers' girls hoops team

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: February 12, 2017 12:01 AM
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HUDSON -- Dennis Lawler didn't plan on a fun practice Feb. 7.

Considering his team got outrebounded 46-20 the previous night, fun wasn't exactly what the Hudson head girls basketball coach had in mind.

Neither was anything else besides rebounding.

"That's all they're going to do at practice," Lawler said.

Thanks to its dominance on the glass, Stow-Munroe Falls cruised past the Lady Explorers 68-37 in Suburban League National Conference play Feb. 6 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.

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With the win, the Lady Bulldogs, who also defeated National Conference rival Brecksville-Broadview Heights 66-32 Feb. 8 at home, improved to 18-2 overall and 12-1 in the National Conference.

Stow was tied atop the National Conference standings with Twinsburg, which defeated Nordonia 68-34 Feb. 8, as of press time.

Hudson, on the other hand, has been long out of the National Conference title race. The Lady Explorers (5-15, 3-10), who also lost to National Conference foe Wadsworth 60-34 Feb. 8 on the road, had a five-game losing streak as of press time.

Of course, Hudson didn't exactly run into a couple of cupcakes.

The Lady Grizzlies are the reigning Division I state champions and the Lady Bulldogs, who stormed out to a 21-5 lead after the first eight minutes, reached Division I regional play last season.

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"They're good," Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler said of Stow. "They hit a couple of shots and they got some loose balls and turned those into points. Playing a team like that, we can't give them too many extra possessions. They had way too many offensive rebounds."

He's not exaggerating.

Stow had 16 offensive rebounds compared to just three for Hudson.

Thanks to the hot shooting of senior forward Lindsey Molnar, the Lady Bulldogs took control late in the first quarter.

Molnar knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers late in the period and finished with 15 points on five triples.

Stow was one or two steps ahead of the Lady Explorers throughout the evening.

The Lady Bulldogs moved the ball around and made a habit of finding wide-open teammates.

And of course, Stow's defense, which has been its strength throughout the season, made life extremely difficult for Hudson's offense.

The Lady Bulldogs forced turnovers, contested and blocked shots and thanks to their ability to crash the boards, held the Lady Explorers to many one-and-done possessions.

"We moved the ball well," Stow head coach Bob Podges said. "We didn't shoot it well. We had stretches where we rushed shots and didn't take the right shot. Our motivation is not to take anyone lightly. We're playing for a conference championship."

The catalyst of Stow's attack was 5-foot-5 sophomore point guard Lexi Petit. She found open teammates, hustled into traffic to get rebounds and also was a threat from the perimeter. Petit finished with a team-high 17 points and drained three 3-pointers.

"Lexi is the true essence of a point guard," Podges said.

Junior guard Theresa Parr and sophomore forward Lizzy Stefanov each scored 8 points for the Lady Bulldogs.

Senior guard Ava Cristofoli led Hudson with a game-high 18 points and sophomore guard Emma Messina finished with 8 points. No other player scored more than four points for the Lady Explorers.

"We played hard," Lawler said. "We just don't do the little things. They understand what we have to do do. If we don't rebound the basketball, we're going to be in trouble."

Hudson improved to 11-7 overall with a 35-28 win in the junior varsity contest. Freshman guard Audrey Kirkhope-Moss contributed a team-high 15 points.

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