Athens kept driving in. But when the Bulldog players sent the ball towards the rim, it kept getting sent away.
The Bulldogs were blocked 5 times in their 55-32 loss to Gallia Academy on Friday night.
The main offender of those blocks: 7-footer Zach Loveday.
Athens had problems with Loveday all game.
“He’s legit,” coach Mickey Cozart said.
With the presence of Loveday, it was hard to get anything going offensively for the Bulldogs.
They tried to score off the drive, and the length of Loveday made it hard to do that.
The focus of the Athens’ offense, however, isn’t scoring off the drive. It’s about spreading the ball around and looking for the open shot. And it when the Bulldogs didn’t do that, they found struggles.
“We had too much one-on-one basketball,” Cozart said. “We have got to play better as a team.”
Playing that one-on-one basketball Cozart referred to was what Gallia Academy wanted Athens to do: Let them drive; get blocked by the likes of Loveday.
Cozart wanted the Bulldogs to drive and pass out of the paint to a shooter. When they did that, there was some success. Dalton Cozart, Mickey’s son, was 2-4 on three-pointers and had 11 points in the game.
“That was part of the game plan, we didn’t want to do that,” Mickey said. “We wanted to attack, and when (Loveday) came to us, dump it off. We didn’t do that.”
And Cozart is hoping what happened Friday isn’t what his team is going to do this season. He knows his team can’t win if they play like that.
“We didn’t see it in the summer, we didn’t see it in the summer,” he said. “I think the night overwhelmed guys, opening night. We just never recovered.”
They were able to grab some offensive rebounds early, however, which gave them a chance to get second-chance points. And when the offensive boards went away, so did the game.
After a tough game Friday, the Bulldogs don’t have it any easier Saturday. After a 53-mile trip to play Gallia Academy, they will have a 76-mile trip to play Columbus Bishop Watterson on Saturday. Watterson also has a 7-footer, Zach Parker.
The Bulldogs won’t let what happened Friday affect the game on Saturday, however.
“When we go into the gym we expect to play well and expect to win,” Mickey said.