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For the third time this season, the Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball team need triple overtime to settle a game.
On Feb. 12, a momentary lapse defensively ended a marathon confrontation between Northeast Ohio Conference River Division rivals Stow and Hudson.
When Hudson's Zack Brandy saw his shot bounce off the rim, most in attendance at the Explorers' Buck Hyser Gymnasium probably thought the game was headed for a fourth overtime. However, the Explorers' Steve Boslet put up a two-handed tip-in that beat the buzzer and the Bulldogs 39-37.
The loss followed a 46-42 home loss to Solon for the Bulldogs.
Hudson moved to 15-4 and 6-2 in division play, tying them with Twinsburg for the division lead at press time. Stow dropped to 9-11, 2-6 in the River Division.
"Both teams played very good defense. Our defense was tremendous and they did a phenomenal job," said Hudson coach Jeff Brink. "It was a battle; every possession was a battle. We were fortunate tonight to get a W."
"I'm proud of our effort. We battled hard," Stow coach Dave Close said. "We don't have a large margin for error. This game came down to, despite the solid defense we played, a break down here or there. The game got very physical underneath their glass in the second half. When it gets physical like that we have to do a better job blocking out, including the last play. Our kids played pretty good; Hudson just made one more play than we did."
The final play came after Stow's Matt Beech (a game high 19 points) came to teammate Tyler Devitis' aid as Brandy got free for a running shot at the lead in the waning seconds.
Beech swatted the attempt out of bounds with 2.9 seconds left in the scoreless third overtime.
The Explorers got what they wanted on the inbound play but Brandy's turn-around shot from the right side was contested and came off the rim -- right into the waiting hands of Boslet.
Hudson missed a half court desperation heave at the end of regulation by Mitch Guadagni, an inside look in the final seconds of the first overtime by Alex Mushock and a three from the corner to close out the second extra period, again by Guadagni.
While both Guadagni and Mushock missed opportunities to be the hero, each had his share of big plays in a game where the Explorers failed to score for the first 11:34.
Stow's defense, especially that played by Devitis on Brandy, stymied the hosts at the outset.
Hudson missed their first 12 shots and was 0-2 at the line as well putting up a goose-egg in the opening quarter.
The Bulldogs' Jacob Williams came out smoking making three three-pointers in a 75 second span to help spot the visitors an 11-0 lead after one.
However. Williams did not score the rest of the way.
The lead was 13-0 before John Zuccaro hit on a spinning drive down the lane with 4:26 left in the second quarter. Alex Albright came off the bench to hit a three in the final minutes of the first half to close the gap to 15-7 at intermission.
Beech went 2-4 from the free throw line in the third period for the Dawgs lone points of the stanza.
The Explorers were just 3-of-10 from the floor in the third quarter, but five points from reserve guard Kevin Zullo (seven points) helped close to 17-14 after three.
Stow, which held a 16-9 advantage on the glass in the first half was out-boarded 10-4 in the third and then 6-0 in the fourth period. Hudson ended with a 33-22 advantage on the boards. In the fourth Brandy (five points) finally shook loose of Devitis' tenacious coverage to hit his first points with a three with 7:11 left in regulation to closeto 19-17.
On the next possession after Brandy's lone bucket of the night Guadagni scored on a third chance put-back with 6:43 to play to bring Hudson even at 19-19. The sophomore scored a back-door lay-in a few minutes later for the Explorers first lead (21-19; 4:21 left).
Beech then took his team on his shoulders. The 6-2 junior scored back-to-back buckets inside to reclaim the edge for the Bulldogs.
Boslet, Brandy and Zuccaro took turns making good on six straight foul shots with Brandy's and Zuccaro's both coming via the one and one. The six-point swing had the hosts on the verge of victory with a 27-24 edge. With the clock winding down under ten seconds Beech drove the lane, drew coverage and kicked out to freshman Nathan Bower (seven points). Bower drilled the game tying triple from the right corner with four seconds left.
After three chances at game winning shots Hudson finally made good with Boslet's heroics.
Stow fell to Solon despite a 29-point night from Beech. The problem was no other Bulldog scored more than four points in the loss.
Devitis led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds.
Stow was set to host Brush Feb. 15, but results weren't available at press time.
Stow will close the regular season by hosting Twinsburg Feb 23 at 2 p.m.
Stow also was given the No. 9 seed in the Division I district tournament at Copley Feb. 10. The Bulldogs will open the postseason Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Copley against Akron Firestone. The winner of that game will play second seeded Twinsburg March 2 at 7:30 p.m.