HUDSON — As Hudson’s Luke Calleja hit consecutive 3-pointers, fans banged their feet against the bleachers. A few shouted that the game wasn’t over, and some said the Cobras were making a comeback.
But Hudson’s 19 points in the final minutes wasn’t enough as Land O’Lakes prevailed 61-55 on Wednesday night.
Land O’Lakes (10-8, 7-3) holds the second spot in Class 5A, District 8, while Hudson (10-9, 5-2) is second in 4A-6.
“We’ve been starting off slow,” said Gators coach David Puhalski, whose team shot more from the perimeter and eventually turned away Hudson’s late charge.
“They’ll make some noise going forward,” he said of Hudson.
The Cobras led 17-15 after one quarter, but the Gators took the lead by halftime 30-27.
The game’s sluggish pace in the second half because of fouls didn’t stall the Gators, though. Kevin Harris consistently streaked to the basket ahead of both teams, and Land O’Lakes took an 11-point lead by the end of three periods.
Then Calleja got hot. His consecutive 3-pointers cut Hudson’s deficit to nine twice with less than two minutes left. Another 3-pointer and a layup with five seconds left was still not enough.
In all, Calleja hit six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 for the Cobras.
Harris topped the Gators with 15 points, followed by Brandon Dorsey and Tom Guglielmello, who each had 14. Ethan Weilant added 12.
Important matchups loom for Land O’Lakes in the next week and a half: On Friday, the Gators face River Ridge, which is tied with Gulf for third in 5A-8. Land O’Lakes faces Gulf on Tuesday.
“We’ve got the second seed,” Puhalski said. “We’d like to keep it.”