Hudson breaks scoring record in intense battle with Woodland


Lilly Carter

A Panther forward shoots a floater over a Woodland defender. Starr’s Mill was able to get inside the paint at will, drawing fouls and converting at the free throw line.

Ty Odom, Staff Writer

Following a hard-fought victory over the McIntosh Chiefs in the region championship, the Panthers boys’ basketball team set their sights on Woodland in the first round of the state playoffs.

The contest against the Wolfpack was a tight back and forth battle, with both teams exchanging baskets until the end. By the time the buzzer sounded, history had been made. Not only did Starr’s Mill come out as the winner, but senior forward Drew Hudson reached the 1,000 point milestone, becoming the only Panther to do so.

Lilly Carter
A Starr’s Mill guard sizes up a defender. The Panthers were able to limit their turnovers, especially in the second half.

“It shows [Hudson’s] hard work paid off,” head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “It is rewarding considering all the work he’s done.”

The game was a low-scoring affair, with both teams playing lock-down defense for the entire 32 minutes. Hudson led the Panthers with 20 points, four steals, and three blocks. Junior Julian Lynch added 15 points, and senior Jake Bishop scored six.

Starr’s Mill got off to a hot start in the first quarter, playing physically on both ends of the floor and scoring on easy layups. Despite the good start, Woodland countered with their efficient outside scoring and equally physical defense, ending the quarter with a 15-14 lead over the Panthers.

The second quarter started slowly for the Mill, as they were unable to find answers for the Wolfpack’s spectacular shooting and defense. The team committed several costly turnovers, allowing Woodland to score on easy fast breaks. It wasn’t until about the five minute mark when senior Dean Patterson ended the Panthers’ scoring woes with a three-point jump shot. Hudson then chipped in three points off of a layup and a free throw. Going into halftime, Starr’s Mill trailed Woodland 20-24.

“We just weren’t hitting our shots,” Hudson said. “We need to focus more and [make] those shots.”

The third quarter was the same on the offensive end for the Panthers. They were ice cold for the majority of the period making only two field goals courtesy of a Lynch mid-range jumper and a Hudson three. Although they played poorly on offense, Starr’s Mill still managed three steals, but it was not enough to stop the Wolfpack from scoring, as they had seven third quarter points to the Panthers’ six, ending with a score of 31-26.

In the fourth quarter, Lynch shifted the momentum by scoring an and-one layup and converting the free throw. He went on to score 10 of his 15 points in the quarter. Lynch and Hudson got the Wolfpack in foul trouble by driving to the basket and initiating contact. Starr’s Mill gradually cut into the lead, making free throws. Hudson and Bishop used the charity stripe to give the Panthers a three-point lead. Woodland managed to make a deep three-point jump shot to tie the game at 41 points with eight seconds left, but their hope was crushed when Hudson sank his last two free throws, ending the game with a final score of 43-41.

“I just play ball,” Lynch said. “I stay focused on the task at hand and try my best to do what I can to make sure my team wins.”

With this win, the Panthers are 20-7 on the season and are on an 11-game winning streak. They will play Wayne County, who finished third in Region 2-AAAAA with a 15-12 record. The game is at home on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m.

The girls’ team ended their season on the same night with a 54-51 loss to Woodland.