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The first time this season Stow-Munroe Falls played Hudson in boys basketball, it was a 62-28 blowout win for the Bulldogs at Hudson.
Given that, Hudson head coach Jeff Brink opted to "shorten the game" when the two squared off Feb. 10 at Jay G. Tyree Gymnasium.
Hudson kept the game much closer, thanks to the slow-down tactics, but Stow still won 49-38.
The game plan kept things more interesting as Hudson led early in the second quarter (11-10) and trailed by just single digits 39-30 early in the fourth quarter. In the first go-around back in early January the Explorers fell behind by double digits early in the second period and never recovered.
"When someone holds it that long, and [the Explorers] have done that to us a number of times over the years, we preach discipline," said Stow coach Dave Close. "When they hold the ball they are hoping you fall asleep and the get a cheap lay-up or backdoor. Our guys played with very good, intense, half-court defense."
After controlling the opening tip Hudson worked the ball around the outside for the 2:38 before taking its first shot, which it a missed.
Stow on the other hand didn't miss early. After turning the ball on their first possession the Bulldogs got a steal and breakaway from Jared Wright (five points) and on their next two possessions Logan Lindsay (11 points) and Wright drained three-pointers. The hosts hit their first three shots and were putting a hurt on the slow-down scheme with an 8-2 lead.
Stow shot 45 percent from the floor including 9-22 on threes (40 percent). The Explorers ended 13-32 from the field (40 percent) with 3-10 on three-pointers.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs was junior Mason McMurray. The 6-8 forward pumped in a game-high 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds making 6-8 shots from the floor including a fine 4-5 effort outside the three-point arc.
"We have a lot of kids that can shoot and they have confidence. If they have a good look we are not afraid to have them shoot. Mason is a nice guy to have around. He has been very committed, worked hard in the off season and has prepared himself well," Close said. "I'm very, very proud of him and the progress he has made as a player and a person. He's a huge part of what we are doing."
McMurray came on strong when the Explorers made a run from a 9-4 deficit after one. Hudson started the second period with a 6-1 spurt. Spencer McClure scored on a breakaway put-back and a three off a long rebound to close to within 10-9.
On its next possession Alex Beck laid-in a two for the visitors only lead (11-10; with 5:55 left in the half).
It was McMurray time. Back to back triples just 37 seconds apart got things started. Jordan Jolly followed with another trey and suddenly the score was 19-11 in favor of the Dogs.
McMurray and Lindsay added two more bombs to build a 25-13 lead. Hudson sophomore William Wallace hit the first of his two triples on the night to close the gap to 25-16 at the break. Wallace had nine points and three steals for the Explorers.
After shooting just 1-2 on two point tries in the first half with a very good 7-13 effort from downtown Stow began to score inside as well in the third period. Twin-towers McMurray and 6-8 sophomore Evan Bainbridge (five points) each found the other for easy lay-ins in a 14-12 third quarter for the hosts.
McClure score six quick ones for Hudson in the middle of the third to help keep things close. With 1.4 second left McMurray's three-point play in the paint off the feed from Bainbridge built the gap back to double-digits 39-28 after three.
Wallace's baseline drive to two points made the score 39-30 to start the final eight minutes but Hudson could get no closer.