Branco, defense leading Hudson to region

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Mon. February 13, 2012 | Matt Baker | Email

Hudson has preached team defense throughout coach Jason Vetter’s tenure. The Cobras reaped the benefits over the weekend, securing their second consecutive district championship and their fourth trip to region in the last five years.

“Obviously what we’re doing is working,” Vetter said.

Hudson knocked off Wesley Chapel, 68-61, Saturday night to improve to 18-10 and claim the Class 5A, District 8 title. The Cobras started slowly but built a seven-point halftime lead thanks to six straight points from guard Bryce Durham. The 6-foot-1 junior finished with a career-high 19 points.

The Cobras’ lead reached double digits before Wesley Chapel star Erik Thomas took over. But Hudson ensured that the run wouldn’t last.

“Our defense controlled the game,” Vetter said.

The Cobras’ big men clogged the passing lanes and helped Hudson cruise to the victory and Thursday’s home region quarterfinal matchup against Eustis. Wesley Chapel (24-4) travels to Nature Coast.

Hudson’s biggest offensive threat continues to be star guard Jamal Branco.

The 6-foot-2 senior was sidelined with a broken bone in his foot during the Cobras’ six-game losing streak to start the year. Since he’s returned, Hudson has become one of the county’s top teams.

He exploded for 36 points against the Wildcats. Since Jan. 1, he’s averaging 22.5 points per game.

“He’s been awesome,” Vetter said.

And Branco will need to continue to play that way if the Cobras hope to knock off Eustis this week.

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