Athens is riding high on a five-game winning streak. All five of those games have been played away from Charles McAfee Gymnasium.
Tuesday, when Athens plays Wellston (10-7, 6-3 Tri-Valley Conference Ohio), it will be the first home game in almost a month. The last time the Bulldogs played at home was Jan. 9, a loss to Vinton County. The last home win came Dec. 22, against Nelsonville-York.
Those games were played before Athens righted the ship. Those games were what led to a 3-9 record. Those games were games that the Bulldogs fell apart in when the other team made a run.
Over the last five games, when a team has given its best shot against Athens, it has stayed composed.
During the first game of the winning streak, Meigs started the game on a 11-0 run. Athens came back and won 66-41.
In win No.4 of the streak, Jackson took a late lead after Athens had led most of the game. Logan Maxfield then hit a 3-pointer and took a charge to keep the streak alive.
Those five games are what has the Bulldogs now at 8-9, and 6-3 in the TVC Ohio. Those five games have given the Bulldogs confidence. They don’t have to build that through practice. They can get some rest, keeping them fresh for the postseason.
“It’s just that time of the year,” coach Mickey Cozart said. “Just trying to keep these guys as fresh as we can. We’re playing confidence, I’m not worried about our confidence.”
Even with that confidence, some work is needed. Athens turned the ball over nine times in the first half Friday against Nelsonville-York. That can be worked through against the Buckeyes (5-12, 1-9 TVC Ohio), but come the sectional tournament, if that happens, the Bulldogs may not get so lucky.
“You can’t come out and turn the ball over nine times against a Sheridan or a Fairfield Union,” Cozart said. “You can look up and be down 28-10.”
So, for now, Athens is riding high. The Bulldogs want to stay fresh for the postseason, and they can. Four of the last five games are at home, with two of those being non-conference games. And a little bit of home cooking might help in both regards.