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Hudson girls hoops gets first postseason win at home over John Adams

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: February 22, 2017 12:01 AM
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HUDSON -- They will be significant underdogs the next time they take the court.

Nonetheless, the Lady Explorers earned themselves another game.

The ninth-seeded Hudson girls basketball team made a stellar 2017 postseason debut after posting a convincing 60-38 victory over 10th-seeded Cleveland John Adams.

The Euclid Division I sectional semifinal contest took place Feb. 18 at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.

With the win, the Lady Explorers have a date in a sectional title game against top-seeded Solon Feb. 23 on the road. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Lady Comets defeated Hudson 58-33 in a district semifinal contest last season.

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"[Alexis] Stover is going to OU [Ohio University in Athens], Dee Bekelja is going to DePaul [Chicago] and Valencia Myers is leaning toward Kentucky or Ohio State," Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler said of his next opponent.

"We're going to go in there and battle. We're not going to back down. I told the girls, Villanova upset Georgetown in 1985 because they shot 72 percent from the field."

Against the Lady Rebels, Hudson dominated from start to finish.

The Lady Explorers (8-15) forced 16 first-quarter turnovers and took a 16-2 lead late in the period.

All told, John Adams (13-11) lost the ball 39 times as it had much difficulty handling Hudson's pressure throughout the evening.

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"This was our first playoff win at Hudson," Lawler said. "I'm proud of the way we came out. We showed good intensity to start the game and we didn't let them get back in the game."

The Lady Explorers had many possession where the ball moved all around the court.

As a result, Hudson's ability to find the open player led to a number of wide-open perimeter shots.

And thanks to their stingy defense, the Lady Explorers were able to get a number of uncontested layups in transition.

"I was most proud of the way we shared the ball," Lawler said. "We made some great passes."

Three players reached double digits in scoring for Hudson. Junior point guard Elizabeth Hinkle led all scorers with 16 points and sophomore guard Dai'Shunai Steward, who caused all kinds of chaos with her active hands on defense, added 15 points. Hinkle knocked down a couple of 3-pointers early in the game to get her team rolling.

"Liz was tremendous shooting the ball," Lawler said. "Dai'Shunai was phenomenal in the press. She creates havoc. She doesn't always get the steal, but she makes it harder to pass over or around her."

Hudson's leading scorer, senior guard Ava Cristofoli, contributed 11 points. The Lady Explorers made six 3-pointers and were 6-of-14 from the free throw line.

Hudson has made significant strides in recent weeks. Lawler hopes that progress continues against an opponent that reached the state semifinals last season.

"We really feel that we have played well as a group in the last four to six games," he said. "The young kids are learning how to play. We've played good competition. The competition doesn't always relate to wins, but it does get us ready to play teams like Solon."

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