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Coach Mickey Cozart poses for a portrait at Athens High School on Jan 11th, 2017 MATT STARKEY|STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Athens Basketball: New coach Mickey Cozart brings fast-paced offense to the Bulldogs

Mickey Cozart knows offense.

Cozart’s former high school team, the Federal Hocking Lancers, averaged 94 points per game and scored over 100 points nine times when he played in 1991.

Now in his first season at Athens High School, he's looking to bring the high-scoring, up-tempo offense from his high school team to the Bulldogs.

So far this season, it's working.

Athens has started the season 6-2 and 3-1 in the Tri-Valley Conference — in large part to the fast-paced offense — but Cozart knows that his players can’t always play exactly to his system.

“We have a system, we expect to run it,” he said. “But, they’re ball players, and we want them to be ball players.”

Cozart also wants his team to play as one unit, and to him, it is a key to the Bulldogs' success.

“We need to play hard every night, play together,” he said. “The whole team atmosphere is important to what we do, and that’s our focus.”

When the Bulldogs, especially on the defensive end, play together to force bad shots and turnovers and get out on the fastbreak, they find success.

The players have embraced their new coach and have bought into his system.

“I love him," senior Griffin Lutz said. "He’s working us real hard but it’s a lot more of a team atmosphere. We all play together, and we’re always hanging out. That’s one of his big things — all of us be together. It’s a lot better.”

Coming from Southeast Ohio, Cozart knows the culture and is very prepared to handle it.

After a 71-45 loss to Parkersburg (W. Va.) on Tuesday, Cozart embodied the blue-collar nature of the area.

“We’re not going to cry about this. We’re going back to work tomorrow,” Cozart said. “We’ve already forgot about it.”

Even if Athens isn’t forcing turnovers and building through their up-tempo offense, he will be able to adjust his team.

“I’ve been coaching a long time.”

@trevor_colgan

tc648714@ohio.edu

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