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Dalton Cozart (20) drives to the basket against Wellston High School on January 13th, 2016 STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER|MATT STARKEY

Athens Basketball: Bulldogs look to retain second place, bounce back against Meigs

Athens had a chance to bounce into first place of the Tri-Valley Conference last Saturday night against Vinton County.

But a deflating 85-52 loss instead dropped the Bulldogs into third place, as they continue to ride what has been a streaky January. 

With five of the next eight final opponents coming from the TVC, Athens has a chance to retain the second place position — or even move to the top spot — if it can end the final stretch of the regular season on a high note.

That final stretch will start on Tuesday night, when Athens (8-6, 5-2 TVC) travels to Meigs (0-6, 5-1 TVC) in what will be its sixth road game in eight total games this month.

The Marauders are in the midst of a 10-2 run, while the Bulldogs are stuck in a 2-5 hole for their last seven.

Meigs currently hold the second spot in the conference, but Athens can reclaim that spot with a win on Tuesday.

The two teams have yet to play this season, but on paper, Athens has the slight edge.

Offensively, Athens and Meigs both average 61 points per game, but Meigs averages 57 points allowed while Athens allows 53 points.

To win, the Bulldogs will have to have a strong offensive showing early to take pressure off of a defense that has struggled to stand tall through a full game's work. 

During their inconsistent 2-5 stretch, the Bulldogs have struggled to contain the opponent's offense in the fourth quarter of a close game, which has led to blown leads, or the blown chance of a chance of an offensive comeback in the game's final minutes.

In order to get out in front early, the Bulldogs' premier point guard, Griffin Lutz, will need to be accompanied with a strong performance by a second Bulldog on the offensive side. When the Bulldogs have had multiple players in an offensive groove to accompany the quick offensive skill set Lutz has, the opponent's defense has struggled to find a working solution to stop them.

As the season winds to a close, coach Mickey Cozart knows that the Bulldogs need to focus on league wins in order finish at the top of the TVC.

"I don't know how much confidence you can build from losing," Cozart said. "So we control our own destiny and we’ve got to take care of business out there and we’ll be fine.”

@anthonyp_2

ap012215@ohio.edu

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