Nick Hudson is a humble basketball hero.
After he sank a free throw with four-tenths of a second left to give Paul Dunbar a 61-60 victory over host Tates Creek Thursday night, Hudson could have played it cool about how he was sure he would win the game.
Instead, the 5-foot-11 senior offered a crooked smile and confessed: "I wasn't very confident, to be honest."
Tates Creek Coach Wayne Breeden had no doubt Hudson would hit the free throw.
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"He's an outstanding player, and his experience as a senior leader allows him to be successful," Breeden said.
Hudson, who had 14 points and seven assists, wasn't the only Dunbar senior who delivered the goods.
Tyler Rogers, a 6-foot-7 pivotman with long arms, had 24 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"We had no answer for him," Breeden said. "It was a great game by Tyler."
Marquis Clay, a 5-10 senior, had 12 points for 20th-ranked Dunbar.
"We've been talking with our guys about senior toughness, and we showed it tonight," Coach Carl "Redd" Hutchinson said.
"That's why we were able to overcome adversity and win in this building for the first time in a while."
Tates Creek, which is one spot out of the top 25 in Dave Cantrall's Rating the State, gave the Bulldogs a fight to the finish in a well-played game, especially considering that the bad weather limited the teams to only a few practices over the last two weeks.
Marcellus Barksdale, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Commodores. He scored 12 consecutive points for his team in a five-minute span of the second half.
"Marcellus played well and, for a stretch there, had a chance to take over the game," Breeden said.
Ryan Fucci, a 6-2 sophomore, had 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
"Every time you thought we were out of it, Ryan made a big play," Breeden said.
One of those big plays by Fucci was a steal and breakaway layup that tied it at 60 with 21 seconds left.
That set the stage for Hudson.
There were off-balance bodies and flailing arms as he drove and put up a shot in the last second, and Tates Creek was whistled for a foul.
After Hudson missed the first free throw, he backed off the line, took a deep breath, then hit the game-winner.
Hudson might not have been confident, but his coach was.
After all, Hudson has scored 1,675 points in his career and was recently notified that he's a McDonald's All-America nominee.
"That's a big deal as far as we're concerned," Hutchinson said. "It shows what kind of player Hud is.
"And I knew he'd come through for us tonight. That's what seniors do."
Paul Dunbar 61, Tates Creek 60
PAUL DUNBAR (12-4) — Rogers 10-20 4-7 24, Hudson 5-8 2-6 14, Waldrop 1-3 0-0 2, Lanter 1-4 0-0 3, Clay 5-8 1-1 12, With 1-4 1-2 3, Hendren 1-1 1-1 3, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-49 9-17 61.
TATES CREEK (9-9) — Barksdale 12-22 3-7 28, Fucci 7-13 0-1 15, Hagan 0-0 0-0 0, Garner 2-4 1-1 5, Cuyler 0-4 1-2 1, Daughtery 2-2 0-0 4, Potter 3-4 1-2 7. Totals 26-49 6-13 60.
Paul Dunbar 18 13 11 19—61
Tates Creek 18 8 16 18—60