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Athens' Elijah Williams attempts to drive past Zane Trace's Colby Swain during their District Semifinals tournament game on Thursday, Feb. 28. The Bulldogs lost to the Pioneers 48-28. (FILE)

Athens Basketball: 3 key takeaways from the Bulldogs' final scrimmage against Vinton County

Athens faced Vinton County this Saturday in the Shriner’s Basketball Preview for its final scrimmage of the season before its first game against Gallia Academy on Nov. 29.

The Bulldogs and Vikings only played one half, but it was enough to showcase what went well and what didn’t for Athens.

Here are some key takeaways from the Bulldogs’ 28-27 victory over the Vikings:

Setting the tone

Last season, Athens was physically a much bigger team. After graduating seven players from last years’ team, it needs to run a much different style of play in order to stay competitive.

Coach Mickey Cozart is emphasizing a much quicker pace, which matches his team’s size and ability. Throughout much of the scrimmage, the Bulldogs controlled the tempo with a quicker style of play than opponents are often used to. They ran the floor well and had several fast breaks executed to perfection. 

If Athens looks to play well in the regular season, it will need to perfect this faster tempo and force teams to play at this fast pace that many of them are not used to.

Turnover Prone

While the new offense showcased its potential, one issue that glared was turnovers.

Cozart mentioned turnovers were a problem ahead of Saturday’s scrimmage, and against the Vikings, it held true once again. The Bulldogs turned the ball over several times in transition and had problems passing the ball. 

The 3-point game

Athens has been relying heavily on its 3-point shooting throughout the first three scrimmages it has played in. Saturday, the 3-point shots were not falling at as high of a clip as the team has been used to, but the Bulldogs made enough to win.

The Bulldogs on the defensive end also struggled defending the 3-point shot. The Vikings hit many threes when the Bulldogs left shooters open in attempts to trap underneath. The traps were successful, however, and led to several Vinton County turnovers.


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