Richie Mulhall

Hudson found a way to turn a 14-point deficit into a potential buzzer-beating finish, but the Copley girls basketball team managed to narrowly escape defeat and hold on to win 50-49 at home on Tuesday night.

Heading into the fourth quarter with a commanding 42-28 lead, Copley had Tuesday night’s game against Hudson seemingly well in hand. But halfway through the quarter, the Indians began to sweat and coach LaMont Wilson began to scream from the sidelines.

Copley, which had held Hudson to just eight points in the third quarter and cruised into the final quarter in control of the game, blew its big lead and allowed the Explorers to get back in the game.

Hudson’s defense, which had surrendered 21 points in the third quarter, applied its full-court press to pressure the offense and trap the ball to force turnovers. It worked. Copley’s surging offense, which was in control through the first three quarters, crumbled under the pressure and the Explorers’ defense capitalized on turnovers and second-chance points as the Indians began to wilt.

“Our team is extremely young, and when [Hudson] started pressing us, we began to fall apart a little bit because they weren’t used to this pressure,” Wilson said. “Everybody wanted to get rid of the ball. It’s a growth process, so once they grow up, they’ll learn how to handle that ball and take care of the pressure.”

Hudson senior Ally Prosser, who was in foul trouble late in the third quarter with four fouls, was the most instrumental piece to Hudson’s wild comeback. She single-handedly kept the Explorers in the game and willed her team to a potential comeback.

“She’s our leader and our captain, and she played the way I would expect her to play,” Hudson coach Dennis Lawler said. “She’s been shooting the ball well all preseason, so I’m really proud of how she kept us and shot us in the game. We just got to get some kids knocking down some other shots and helping out in that area.”

Despite Prosser’s precarious situation, she stayed in the game, and her 13 fourth-quarter points nearly erased the Indians’ lead and sparked a 21-8 run spanning the entire fourth quarter. She finished with 21 points, almost half of the team’s total.

In spite of Prosser and company’s rallying cry, though, the Explorers ran out of time and Copley clung to its one-point advantage.

“We knew that Hudson had to trap, we knew that they needed the ball because they were down, so what we did was we just set up away from the ball and let everybody break towards the ball to get them open,” Wilson said. “We didn’t have any plays. We just let them create on their own.”

Wilson’s strategy of letting the team create scoring opportunities in the first three quarters worked well. The Indians’ fast-break offense caught the Explorers off guard on numerous occasions, setting up Copley’s leading scorers.

Freshman Paige Brenner was the top scorer with 24 points, and 5-foot-9 junior Armani Jackson, who was the key player involved in a lot of Copley’s fast-break scoring opportunities, finished with 12 points.