HUDSON: Cuyahoga Falls shot the lights out in a 68-55 victory at Hudson on Friday night, improving to 7-2 and a perfect 4-0 in the Northeast Ohio Conference.
The Black Tigers made 10 of their 15 3-point attempts, with senior guard Jacob Slone leading the way with five on his way to a game-high 20 points.
The other starting guard, Josh Ricker, scored 17 points with three 3-pointers, and the two guards combined for more than half the Tigers’ points.
“Obviously, we pretty much knew what they were capable of doing,” Hudson coach Jeff Brink said. “We see them all the time. When they shoot the ball as well as they did tonight, it puts us in a tough position.”
“On any given night, they can shoot like that,” Tigers coach Rob Slone said. “They’re also ready to go 6-26 on any given night. It’s one of those things where it’s feast or famine.
“Sometimes you live by it, sometimes you die by it. But I will say our shot selection was real good. Even if we didn’t make those shots, I wasn’t going to be too upset because we were taking quality shots.”
Early in the first quarter, it appeared the game might take a different direction. Senior forward Angelo Cugini, 6-foot-7, scored the Tigers’ first four points and finished the first half with 10 points and seven rebounds. He was held scoreless in the third quarter, but that’s when the 3s really started to fall as four of the team’s 10 came in the third quarter.
“Teams adjust to that,” Slone said. “And that’s the beauty of having Jay and Josh along with Angelo. If the defense collapses and tries to keep Angelo out of the paint, then you’ve got Jay and Josh spreading it back out again. At some point, if you make two or three 3-pointers in a row, they’ve got to come back out again. Then Angelo is a force inside again.”
After trailing 29-25 at halftime, the Explorers (5-4, 1-3) were able to cut their deficit to one point, 39-38, late in the third quarter. Later, after a turnover and a blown coverage on defense, the Explorers ended the third with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior guard Kyle Ator that cut the deficit to 45-41.
But the Tigers responded by scoring the first seven points of the fourth quarter and not looking back.
Junior guard Tyler Adams responded especially well, scoring nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Tigers pulled away.
“He’s one of those kids that’s capable of doing it at any time,” Slone said. “He made a couple bad mistakes in the first half where mentally he took himself out of the game. He got caught on a couple back-door cuts after we preached to him that’s what they were going to try to do and he turned the ball over a couple times. He sort of shut himself down, but after halftime he played well.”
Jacob Slone finished with 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and a block. Stricker had 17 points, four assists and a rebound. Cugini finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
Mitchell Guadagni led the Explorers with eight point, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal.