Despite putting up another strong first half performance, Athens (7-14, 6-6 Tri-Valley Conference-Ohio) ran out of steam Saturday night in in its 59-42 loss to Trimble (17-0, 9-0 Tri-Valley Conference-Hocking). Athens was playing its fourth game in five days, and it couldn't keep up against the top team in the TVC-Hocking.
The Bulldogs had remained on the Tomcats' heels early. Landon Wheatley knocked down a 3-pointer to hand the Bulldogs an immediate lead, and Nathan Shadik followed suit soon after. The Bulldogs piled on shots to keep ahead, but the Tomcats went on a scoring run late in the quarter to wrestle the lead away. After a steal and a pair of free throws, the Bulldogs trailed by just two points after the first quarter.
But that was the closest they'd come.
Trimble blew open the rest of the game by opening the second quarter with a 12-2 scoring run. Athens mounted a response and scored six points to end the half, and it seemed poised to retake the lead. There was a six-point deficit standing in its way, but Athens wasn't letting Trimble run away with the lead.
The Bulldogs entered the second half with the same intensity they carried before halftime. They played catch-up after halftime and trailed 36-30 midway through the third quarter. But they couldn't hang around forever. The Tomcats punctuated the third quarter with another scoring run, and the Bulldogs trailed by double figures for the first time Saturday.
Athens folded. Trimble widened the gap in the fourth quarter and never let up. Athens fell behind, and it ended its regular season with a blowout loss to the top team in the TVC-Hocking.
The regular season may have ended in disappointment, but the Bulldogs still have one more game. Their lackluster performance in the second half only added to a rout by the Tomcats, and the Bulldogs cannot let that happen again in the playoffs. If the Bulldogs want to knock off Circleville on Tuesday, they need to clean up their performance after halftime.