Cobras pull off unlikely win

Hudson upsets St. Petersburg Catholic, ranked fifth in the state, 55-53 to finish third in tourney.

By MIKE CAMUNAS Times Correspondent
Published December 31, 2006

HUDSON - Hudson coach Jason Vetter spent three long days at Cobra Gym hosting the Third Annual Chase Memorial Invitational.

And the tournament he created came down to one miraculous, heart-stopping shot.

With less than a minute left in the Cobras' third-place game against St. Petersburg Catholic, Hudson (4-8) found itself down 53-50, thanks to rebounding and a 16-5 run in the third quarter.

Enter junior guard Tyler Hooten, who stepped up to the 3-point line after a pass from forward Pat Solis and made a 20-foot shot with hands in his face and picked up the foul.

The ensuing free throw put the Cobras up as Hudson, pulling off one the biggest upsets in school history, beat the Barons 55-53 on Saturday. St. Petersburg Catholic is ranked fifth in the state in Class 3A.

"Coach (Vetter) said this is probably the first time we've ever beaten a top-10 ranked team," senior guard Mike Russo said. "That shot was definitely something. Then the crowd went crazy. You could feel (the noise) on the court."

Hooten, who made five 3-pointers and had 18 points against the Barons (9-2), said he never even saw the shot go in.

"I just got off a clean shot," Hooten said. "I only knew from the reaction of the crowd."

Vetter said Hooten "got really hot from 3-point range" during the tournament, but Hooten isn't sure why.

"I have no idea how I got so many in," said Hooten, who made the all-tournament team, finishing three games with 48 points and 13 3-pointers. "It doesn't matter. We got this big win. We've never beaten anyone like this before."

Russo said Hooten will "go through spurts when everything he shoots, he makes," but Vetter knows how Hooten made "probably the best shot in years around here."

"He's probably our best pure shooter," Vetter said. "He'll make bad shots, but with a player like him, you just have to let the shooter shoot."

For Hudson - a team that has just a handful of wins since Vetter took over, including its first victory on Thursday in the tournament it hosts - third place just got a little more honorable.

"Third place," Vetter said. "After that game, third place feels a lot more like first place."