A sputtering start to Senior Night, plus the fact that Hudson's Phil Blickensderfer was in the building, spelled a disappointing loss for Kent Roosevelt Friday.
It took almost three quarters for the host Rough Riders to get their feet on the ground against the Explorers as Kent Roosevelt fell 79-64 in a Western Reserve Conference South Division game.
Blickensderfer, a 6-foot-6 inside scoring machine, scored 28 points, one more than he did when the Explorers bested the Rough Riders (10-8, 4-6 South) in January. Once again he proved to be a handful, hitting eight field goals and converting 12-of-14 free throws. Blickensderfer had 14 points in the first 16 minutes as the Explorers gained a 41-24 halftime edge.
With the win, Hudson improved to 13-4 overall and 8-2 in the South. The Explorers, along with Barberton, earned a piece of the WRC South regular-season title.
This was not how Kent Roosevelt coach Tom Larkin wanted his five seniors _ all of whom started _ to finish their home careers.
"We were completely out of sync in the first half, both offensively and defensively," said the Kent Roosevelt coach. "And it wasn't one person. The inconsistent basketball we were playing early on in the year, it was what we reverted to in that first half.
"I don't know if it was because it was Senior Night or because we had been playing two days a week for a month, and then all of a sudden we have a week off. (Also), our practices this week weren't the best we've had this season. So maybe that had something to do with it.
"I didn't have us ready to play, mentally, in the first half."
By the time the Rough Riders got into the flow of the contest, they had fallen behind by 18 points (49-31) with 3:17 left in the third stanza.
With Ernie Cobbin (24 points) on the bench with foul trouble _ the senior forward eventually fouled out with 4:18 remaining in the game _freshman Chris Banks and junior Ryant Clark led a surge that closed the gap to 57-48 less than one minute into the final quarter.
"In the second half, we made some nice runs and fought back," said Larkin. "That's the heart this team has shown all year long. Physical effort has never been the problem with this team. We just kept battling back, even when Ernie was out of the game."
Hudson built the advantage back up to 15 points, before Kent Roosevelt made a last-gasp run and drew within nine points with 2:03 to go.
Colin Gentry and Clark each posted 11 points for the Rough Riders. Banks finished with eight.
Fred Johnson backed Blickensderfer with 13 points and 6-5 junior Ryan Booth added 12.
"You have to give credit to Hudson," said Larkin. "They are a solid basketball team."
Blickensderfer outscored Cobbin 10-6 in the opening eight minutes as the Explorers established a 20-14 lead after one quarter.
Hudson 79, Kent Roosevelt 64
(At Kent Roosevelt)
HUDSON (79) _ Jerud Getz 3 2-3 9; Fred Johnson 1 11-14 13; Phil Blickensderfer 8 12-14 28; Jeff Krauss 3 0-0 7; Adam Dare 0 0-0 0; Ryan Booth 5 2-3 12; Jason Phelps 0 0-0 0; Troy Pendergrass 0 2-2 2; Andy Albright 3 2-3 8. Totals 23 31-39 79.
KENT ROOSEVELT (64) _ Colin Gentry 2 6-8 11; John Cegledy 2 0-0 5; Eddie Kendrick 0 0-0 0; Joe Taylor 0 2-4 2; Chris Banks 3 0-0 8; Ernie Cobbin 8 8-9 24; Matt Burns 1 0-0 3; Ryant Clark 5 1-1 11; Evan Morgan 0 0-0 0; Mitch Hutchison 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 17-22 64.
HUDSON 20 21 16 22 _ 79
KENT ROOSEVELT 14 10 19 21 _ 64
Three-Point Goals _ Hudson (2): Getz 1, Krauss 1. Kent Roosevelt (5): Banks 2, Gentry 1, Cegledy 1, Burns 1.
Total Rebounds _ Hudson, 19-18
Total Fouls _ Kent Roosevelt, 25-21
JV Score _ Hudson, 46-29. Leading Scorers: (H) Jason Phelps, 8 points; (KR) Alex Paolini, 9 points.