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A season which started with so much promise seems to be unraveling for the Cuyahoga Falls boys basketball team.
First, Falls suffered a 57-49 at Hudson Feb. 8 as the Explorers scored their seventh straight win.
Then, the Black Tigers hosted Twinsburg Feb. 12. It was a very tight game, but Twinsburg pulled out the 68-66 win.
As a result Falls dropped to 11-8, 2-5 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division and is all but out of the division title race.
"We put ourselves out of contention in the league," a disappointed Black Tigers coach Rob Slone sighed after his clubs second loss to Hudson this campaign. "This is our fourth loss; we lost to Stow in triple overtime on Tuesday. We needed this one to stay in it."
After losing to Hudson 72-60 the first time around, Falls led 36-33 heading into the final eight minutes thanks to three pointer by Josh Ricker with two seconds to play in the third. Ricker led all scorers with 20 points.
That edge disappeared quickly in the fourth quarter when the Explorers' Kevin Zullo got hot. After a foul shot by teammate Steve Boslet, Zullo (12 points) canned his second triple of the night to put the hosts ahead 37-36.
Ricker answered 25 seconds later with the third of his four treys but Zullo wasn't finished.
After Boslet hit two more free throws to tie the game at 39-39 Zullo hit a pull-up three in transition to give the Explorers the lead for good 42-39 with 5:26 remaining.
A 14-0 Hudson run that would leave Falls trailing 51-39 lead with 3:22 to play. Zach Brandy led the Explores with 17 points.
"They (the Explorers) have guys who step up and make plays," Slone said. "The Zullo kid comes in and buries three threes in the fourth quarter. They have Brandy, who obviously can play, and Boslet, who obviously can play. If we focus on them they always have a kid come off the bench. As soon as you focus only on those two, they have somebody there who makes you pay. This time it was Zullo with four threes and last time it was (Alex) Albright who made three threes."
The Black Tigers wouldn't go quietly.
Matt Lawrence scored his five points on the night with a baseline drive for two and a triple from the right wing to close to 51-44 with 1:54 left.
After an exchange of scores Mushock, hit both ends of a one and one.
Ricker's final three with 39 ticks on the clock made it a two possession game at 55-49.
Two missed one-and-ones by the Explorers in one trip down court left the door open, but when Mushock hit two more freebies, the win was sealed.
The game with Twinsburg was tight affair throughout.
Falls lost despite 21 points each from Ricker and center Angelo Cugini. Ricker hit five three-pointers on the night.
While did a decent job containing Twinsburg point guard Jalen Washington (nine points) and forward A.J. Edwards (16 points), it was the Tigers' third option who did most of the damage.
Twinsburg senior Cooper Rea finished with a game-high 23 points, including five three-pointers
Falls was set to travels to Solon Feb. 15, but results were not available at press time.
Falls' regular season finale with at home Feb. 22 with Brush will be a in a doubleheader of sorts.
Falls will host the fourth quarter of a game called Jan. 18 due to a power outage at Brush at 5 p.m. The Arcs led 50-46 when the game was suspended.
After the JV game, the two varsities will meet again at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18.
Falls also was given the No. 6 seed at Division I Copley district tournament draw Feb. 10. The Black Tigers will play 11th-seeded Wadsworth Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Copley. The winner will play top-seeded Nordonia March 1 at 6 p.m.