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Athens Bulldogs point guard Elijah Williams (no. 3) moves past Meigs guard Coulter Cleland (no. 10) during the second half of the Bulldogs game against Meigs High School on Feb 8. The Bulldogs won 55-51.

Athens Basketball: Bulldogs look to experience and size advantage in sectional final

Athens will need to use its experience and size advantage against Logan Elm in the sectional final Friday at 6 p.m.

The Bulldogs are coming into the game having dropped the final two games of their regular season, but before that, they won seven straight. 

These teams are familiar with each other. They usually play every year, but they didn’t this season. Athens (16-6, 11-1 TVC-Ohio) has won the last three times the teams have met, with all the games being close.

Logan Elm (11-10, 8-6 Mid-State League) has won three of its last five games and is only giving up 43 points per game. 

After leaving Friday’s game against Logan in the second quarter with an injury, Elijah Williams missed Saturday’s game and missed the first three practices this week. 

The decision on whether Williams plays will come down to if he can move around well — or if he’s going to be very limited in what he can do.

If Williams doesn’t play, the point guard duties will be split by Eli Chubb and Brayden Markins, who are not natural point guards but have had experience this year. 

No matter who is playing point guard, Athens will need to reduce the number of turnovers it commits. It had 31 in the last two games and struggled to get into an offensive rhythm due to turnovers. 

Athens is an experienced team with four of its starters being seniors, and they will be relied on to lead the team. 

“That's what you hope that your seniors will get you through big games,” coach Mickey Cozart said. “I have faith in these guys, I think we'll be fine."

Having a size advantage over Logan Elm in the post will continue to be key to the Athens offense. Having the combination of Isaiah Butcher and Justin Hynes, who combined for 30 points Saturday against Jackson, it will be tough for the Braves to stop both of them.

“There's not many teams that we've played this year that have been able to stop us, so that's what we're (going to) keep doing,” Hynes said. 

Athens will likely play its 3-2 zone defense to stop the perimeter shooting while relying on Butcher and Hynes to control the post.

Last year, Athens lost its sectional final against Vinton County in overtime, and the seniors are determined to get to The Convo this season. 

Athens only has to win one game to do that, and if it does, it will face the winner of Zane Trace and Hillsboro on February 28. 

Cozart has been trying to keep the team loose. They play better and treat the game as nothing special, although it has more.

“It’s really just another game so we don't put any more pressure on them,” Cozart said. “We expect them to go out and do their jobs.”


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