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Isaiah Butcher shoots a three-pointer in the first quarter of Athens' 54-47 victory over Marietta Tuesday.

Athens Basketball: Bulldogs prepare for big conference battle

On Friday, in the biggest game of their season, the Bulldogs have a chance to tighten their grasp on the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division.

Athens (12-4, 8-1 TVC Ohio) looks to sweep the season series with Alexander (12-3, 8-1 TVC Ohio) while also extending their winning streak to four games.

This game will break the tie atop the TVC Ohio and will put the winner in the best position to become conference champion.

Coach Mickey Cozart knows the environment will be raucous in Alexander and is embracing it as he prepares the Bulldogs.

“If you can’t get up for this kind of game, you probably should check your pulse,” he said. 

During Athens’ winning streak, the 3-point game has been a key aspect to its success. The Bulldogs have made 19 3-pointers in the last three games. 

The ability to hit from downtown is something Cozart expected to see from his team all season. He was concerned that he didn’t see it earlier in the season. Now that the Bulldogs are heating up from behind the arc, he hopes they can continue their shooting success against the Spartans.

“We had (3-point shooting) all summer and all of a sudden we can’t hit one 3-pointer in a game,” Cozart said. “Now we’re starting to extend the defense.”

One player the Bulldogs have to focus on stopping is 6-foot-10 junior Caleb Terry. In the 49-39 victory over Alexander on Dec. 21, Athens was able to hold Terry scoreless. Cozart said that was due to the effort of the Bulldogs’ center, Isaiah Butcher, and is confident that Butcher can put in a similar performance in Friday’s game.

“We expect Isaiah (Butcher) to go do his job,” Cozart said. “The goal is to play great defense.”

Tip-off on Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m at Alexander High School.

After the battle with the Spartans, the Bulldogs will have to recover the next day as they take on Jackson (12-5, 5-3 Frontier Athletic Conference) in a tough nonconference game.

Saturday’s game will be at McAfee Gymnasium and tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.



Tyler Johnson


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