Both Alexander and Athens have senior-laden rosters, but it was a pair of freshman that decided the course of the game on Friday night.
Athens freshman Joey Burrow lit up the scoreboard as the Bulldogs defeated Alexander 51-34 at Alexander.
“He got us off to a good start and we knew they were going to play zone,” Athens coach Jeff Skinner said. “When they got in the zone, we did a good job of finding Joe and he made the shots.”
Burrow started the game by connecting on three out of four 3-point attempts and finished with nearly half of the team’s points.
“We’re still trying to find out how he got open,” Alexander coach Blaine Gabriel said. “We worked last night for an hour and a half on switching our zones. Before we came out to play the game we had to know where he was at.”
Alexander once again had trouble scoring consistently as their inexperience showed.
“We’ve struggled all year shooting,” Gabriel said. “That’s nothing for us. Normally we get about 55 shots so we tried to get a lot more shots than the other team just so we can have an opportunity.”
The lone bright spot for the Spartans was the play of junior Braden Jones. He finished with 15 points. No other player for Alexander scored more than six points.
Athens’ defense stifled Alexander, forcing the Spartans into bad looks from the floor. Freshman Ryan Leuhrman led the way defensively with seven rebounds and two blocks.
“Defense is an amazing thing because 100 percent is want to,” Skinner said. “Physically, Alexander is a good matchup for us to be able to play man defense.”
Athens continues its winning ways with the victory and is now in sole possession of second place in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio standings. The Bulldogs are just one game behind first place with four games left on their season schedule.
With the loss, Alexander drops to 4-12 on the season and 2-6 in league play.
“We’re still a team, we’re still busting our butts in practice,” Gabriel said. “That’s the thing I’ve got to say and the kids show up every night to practice and we’ve not given up.”