Athens is in a slump at the wrong time.
Headed to its first playoff game, Athens has lost three of its last four games to finish the season. The lone win in that stretch came last Friday against Nelsonville-York at Athens’ senior night.
When Athens faces Sheridan on Friday at Logan High School, it will hope to rebound from a loss to Marietta last Saturday.
A key for the Bulldogs to end their slump will be rebounding. When the team is at its best, it has a clear advantage in rebounding numbers.
“I can tell when we’re 100 percent into the game (because) we usually win the rebound battle,” coach Mickey Cozart said. “When we don’t, we lose the game, and we’re not mentally there.”
Sheridan will pose as a strong opponent, especially in the rebounding area. The Generals have two players listed at 6-foot-5, Dylan Dupler and Stanley Knox. The Bulldogs' big men, Justin Hynes and Robert Dickelman, will have to deal with Sheridan’s length. Hynes is 6-foot-3, while Dickelman is 6-foot-4.
“They got some big guys on that team,” Cozart said. “We’ve got to rebound for us to have a chance to win that game.”
In addition to having to deal with the inside presence of Sheridan’s big men, the Bulldogs will also have to deal with the Generals’ shooter, Ethan Heller.
Athens has already played Sheridan this season in a preseason scrimmage, and the Bulldogs will use that previous experience to game plan for the Generals.
“We’ll see if it shows on Friday night, but we definitely have a game plan that we believe we will be successful with,” Cozart said.
If the Bulldogs win Friday night, they will play next in The Convo in a district semifinal game. The dream of playing in the arena is a driving force for the Bulldogs.
“That was our goal for the entire season,” Dalton Cozart said. “All we wanted to do is get into The Convo.”
To reach that goal, Athens will be required to rebound from the slump it is currently in, and it will have some tall barriers to face on its way there.