HUDSON — One thing Hudson coach Jason Vetter has emphasized all season is to have that one good defensive quarter by holding the opposing team to less than 10 points.
Going into the fourth quarter leading 50-48 against Ridgewood on Tuesday, the Cobras turned up the pressure by forcing the Rams to take some uncharacteristic shots. That, combined with an offensive surge behind point guard Jamal Branco, helped Hudson defeat a district rival 73-67.
“I told the team at halftime there is usually a quarter we shut a team down pretty good on defense,” Vetter said. “It came in the fourth quarter, and that’s where we made our run.
“It all starts with defense. It was a great team effort.”
Even though Hudson (14-4, 10-1) allowed 19 points in the final period, the Cobras’ up-tempo play caused many problems for Ridgewood (13-5, 9-2) down the stretch. Hudson went on a 10-0 run to begin the last quarter before the run was ended by a couple free throws from Ridgewood’s Mike Wood (15 points, five rebounds).
Branco (20 points, four steals), who flirted with a triple double by dishing out 14 assists and grabbing six rebounds, looked like a man on a mission in the fourth quarter. The 5-foot-11 junior contributed in a variety of ways, whether it was using his quickness to get to the basket or finding a teammate open on the wing. Branco’s main accomplice at the end of many passes was Richey Williams, who scored a game-high 28 on 11-of-24 shooting.
Scott Kujak led the Rams in scoring with 24 points and also collected seven rebounds.
The win puts the Cobras in first place in 4A, District 7 with only one loss and leaves Ridgewood in second with districts looming in 21/2 weeks.