Athens (14-6) lost a heart-breaker Saturday night against Logan (5-15) by a score of 58-54.
The Bulldogs at certain points in the game were down by 13 points. A late-game surge briefly gave Athens the lead, but it couldn’t hang on late against the Chieftains.
There were several factors that lead to the Bulldogs’s loss. One of the largest reason’s was the size discrepancy between big men on each side.
Senior Justin Wolfe for the Chieftains, who is 6-foot-6. was taller than any player on the Bulldogs, and it showed as the Bulldogs was out-rebounded for much of the night.
Nearing the end of the game with only 29 seconds left, Athens trailed 56-54 and had possession with a chance to win the game. Coach Mickey Cozart had drawn up a play for his team, and a double-digit point comeback seemed as if it was going to be completed with a storybook ending.
Then, the Bulldogs turned the ball over. That forced Athens to commit a foul to stop the clock, and the Chieftains won the game at the free-throw line.
Turnovers were a huge theme for the Bulldogs. That’s been a problem for Athens all season, and it cost them Saturday in the final result.
Cozart was frustrated about how careless his team has been with the ball in tight games throughout the year.
“It’s been an issue in close games, Cozart said. “We had a great game against Vinton with only seven turnovers, and we followed that up with a 20-turnover performance against River Valley. I have no clue how many we had tonight, but it was too many.”
Bright spots for Athens were seniors Brayden Markins and Brayden Whiting who both scored 18 points.
Markins scored 18 points despite not playing for the majority of the second quarter due to a technical foul that sent him to the bench for the rest of the half. He returned in the third quarter and was a key to Athens making the double-digit comeback.
Losing close games has been one of the things that have defined the Bulldogs season so far. Three of Athens’ six losses this season have been by only one score, and the other three losses have only been decided by eight points or less.
“They’re heartbreaking,“ Cozart said. “We’ve lost some really close ball games, and the message is the same. You have to take care of the ball to win ballgames at the end. You can’t make crucial turnovers.”
The Bulldogs will look to bounce back for senior night Tuesday against Wellston in McAfee Gymnasium. Tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m.