Athens dropped its third-straight game after suffering a 46-32 loss to Vinton County on Friday.
The Bulldogs (3-12, 2-5 Tri-Valley Conference-Ohio) had gotten off to a promising start. They sank back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game and ended the first quarter with a 6-0 scoring run. Even after the Vikings (12-5, 7-1 Tri-Valley Conference-Ohio) opened up the scoring in the second quarter with a 3-pointer, the Bulldogs did not fret. They responded with another scoring run to keep the lead in their hands.
But Athens' early luck stopped there. It hit a scoring drought midway through the second quarter. Shots didn't connect, and Vinton County seized its opportunity to shave down Athens' lead. Athens still persisted on defense, however. By halftime, Vinton County was 6-of-25 from the field and just 3-of-12 from 3-point range.
Derrick Welsh, who led the Bulldogs with nine points, sank his first shot of the night with less than a minute left in the second quarter. It wasn't much, but it gave Athens a slim four-point lead before halftime.
The Bulldogs appeared to be on the right track after halftime, when Welsh scored on the first possession of the second half. But the Bulldogs caved in, and Vinton County followed up with a quick 6-0 scoring run to tie the game.
"We lost some momentum when they went on a 6-0 run," Athens coach Mickey Cozart said. "We felt pretty good about ourselves at halftime and then you come out and you play like that to start a quarter. It's never good."
It was then that Athens lost control. Vinton County scored 17 points in the third quarter — more than it had in the entire first half. Athens lost the lead for good after Vinton County ended the quarter on an 11-2 run, and Athens found itself behind in a game it had been in control of before halftime.
The Bulldogs never recovered. The Vikings seized a double-digit lead and locked the Bulldogs out.
Athens is doomed to a losing record this season. It has just six games remaining in its schedule, and its hopes of securing a fourth-straight TVC-Ohio title have all but disappeared. There is hope, however. Five of its last six games will be against conference opponents, and therein lies an opportunity to end the season with a winning conference record.
"I've got to see if we have people healthy, and we may have to get (junior varsity) guys some minutes tomorrow," Cozart said.