This season, the Bulldogs finished second in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio, won a sectional championship and played a game in The Convo.
Their season ended last Thursday in that game in The Convo — a 62-53 loss to Miami Trace. With the season's end, the Bulldogs will reflect and look ahead to next year.
The Bulldogs will lose 1,000 point scorer Griffin Lutz to graduation.
The team also loses its leader on and off the court in Lutz. In Mickey Cozart’s first season as the Bulldogs head coach, Cozart was glad to have coached the high-scoring guard.
“Great players want to be pushed; they want to be coached and that’s definitely what we did with him,” Cozart said. “There were no kid-gloves and he embraced it.”
Lutz led his team to a 13-9 regular season record, including 9-3 in conference.
The team was streaky at times and won four games straight twice this season. It also had a streak where it lost five of seven games.
“This is what happens with a young team,” Cozart said. “You lose some games that you shouldn’t have lost.”
Moving forward, however, the Bulldogs will return four of its five starters. Logan Maxfield, Eli Chubb and Treyce Albin — who played a lot of minutes coming off the bench — will fill the hole that Lutz will leave next season.
As a young team that had some success and experienced some downs during the season, the Bulldogs clearly have a strong chemistry moving forward.
“They truly care about one another and I think it showed all year on the court,” Cozart said. “We don’t have a selfish guy in the group.”
The Bulldogs will also have some growth in the area of coaching next season as Cozart will enter his second year as coach.
“I learned a lot, I’ll get better,” he said. “I made a lot of mistakes, but I’ll get better.”
The best example of his growth came in the sectional championship game, when Lutz took the ball coast-to-coast with 11 seconds left and made a layup to win the game for the Bulldogs. With timeouts left, some coaches would call timeout to set up an offense.
“I’m glad coach didn’t call timeout,” Lutz said after the game. “Knowing who we have on the floor, we can score at any time.”
Cozart knew who he had on the court at the time, let them play their game and his team got to cut down the nets.
Athens also had two players selected for the Associated Press All-Southeast District teams for the season.
Lutz earned First Team honors, while Dalton Cozart was selected for the Third Team.
Lutz is a player that Mickey called "the best point guard in Southeastern Ohio." He averaged 19.9 points per game.
Lutz scored his 1,000 point this season, and led the Bulldogs to a sectional championship.
Dalton, a junior and son of Mickey, was the Bulldogs 3-point specialist this season, and will look to replace the graduating Lutz moving forward. He averaged 10.9 points per game.
Even with the graduation of Lutz and two other seniors, the Bulldogs will come back strong next season with a good chance to return to The Convo.