Athens struggled to hit shots as it lost to Gallia Academy, 45-35, in its season opener.
Coach Mickey Cozart counted six missed layups by the Bulldogs.
“We got to be able to make shots, and you can't miss that many layups in a tight ballgame,” Cozart said. “Layups are automatic, we should make all of those. That's a 12-point swing. That's a big difference in the ballgame.”
It was a much closer game than last year, though, when these teams met to open the season. Gallia Academy won that game by 24.
Logan Maxfield led the Bulldogs with nine points, and Elijah Williams added eight points and five steals.
Coming in, Athens knew it would take multiple players to slow down Gallia’s 7-foot center Zach Loveday. He ended up with 17 points, but Isaiah Butcher and Justin Hynes didn’t make it easy for him with their physicality.
Athens started the second half poorly. Gallia started the half with a 6-0 run before Cozart called a timeout.
The Bulldogs responded with a 7-0 run to cut it to a six-point deficit. That was the closest Athens got to Gallia in the second half.
Sophomore Brayden Whiting was one of the first players for Athens off the bench. He chipped in six points. Cozart knows that the team can shoot better than they did against Gallia and could have won if they had done so.
“We're a lot better shooting team than what we showed tonight,” Cozart said. “"We play our best game, we might win that game."
Athens is back on the court Saturday as it heads to the Piketon Classic to take on Waverly at 6:15 p.m.