HUDSON — Less than a week after knocking off heavily favored Wesley Chapel in the district final, Cinderella wasn’t finished Thursday night.
The clock hadn’t yet struck midnight for Hudson after a 52-45 victory over Eustis in the Class 5A region quarterfinals thanks to a barrage of a 3-pointers and physical play in the paint.
The Cobras (19-10) went down 4-0 and looked a little nervous from the outset. However, the calming influence of Hudson coach Jason Vetter seemed to change the mood. Everything changed midway through the first quarter, and the team never looked back.
“We haven’t seen a halfcourt press like that all year,” Vetter said, “so getting used to that was tough. It took us a while to get into our offense.”
Turnovers were an issue for both teams, but with the play of Andrew DiSanto, Hudson was able to dominate the post, winning the rebounding battle 43-25. The Cobras senior center finished with 11 points, a game-high 13 boards and three blocks.
“(DiSanto) was phenomenal,” Vetter said, “and when you get that kind of effort down low, it’s huge.”
Eustis (23-5) hung around, using its advantage in athleticism to score on loose balls and drives to basket. Leading scorer Dustin Dunham finished with 13 points and five rebounds, and the Panthers played solid defense on Hudson star Jamal Branco (six points), who was held far under his 16.2 average.
All of that was offset by the Cobras’ outside shooting. The home squad made seven shots from behind the arc from four players. Zack Petersen (three), Bryce Durham (two), James Simister (one), and Shamoy Charles (one) showed the range.
“We emphasized to our players that we would need to make shots from outside if we were going win this game,” Vetter said. “We did that tonight.”