Boys Basketball-Playoff Preview: (7) Athens vs (2) Logan Elm

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Athens’ draw of the seventh seed in Division-II Logan District playoff bracket pits the Bulldogs (11-9; 8-2) against the second-seeded Logan Elm Braves (16-5; 10-5) in the opening round of the postseason.

Although the difference in seeding may lead you to believe that the Bulldogs will be at a severe disadvantage in this matchup, the numbers are slightly misleading.

Athens’ five-game skid in the middle of this inconsistent campaign severely dropped the Bulldogs position in the standings. However, the losing streak occurred immediately after the loss of one of Athens’ best athletes and a key part of the Bulldogs offensive scheme. 

Head coach Jeff Skinner had to transform team strategy in the middle of the season to make his squad competitive. After the Bulldogs spent a rough stretch of two weeks exclusively in the loss column, Athens was able to pull together for a 14-point victory.

Athens finished the final month of the season with a record of 6-2, coming into the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the district. 

Logan Elm’s record of 8-2 during the same span is also impressive, as is the Braves’ overall record of 16-5.  However, the Braves had some trouble winning important games this season.  All of Logan Elm’s losses came against conference foes. The Bulldogs only dropped two matchups in-conference.

However, a troubling statistic for the Bulldogs is that their season point differential of -0.45 is significantly worse than their opponents’ +10.28 point differential.

Also troubling is the fact that Athens failed to step up against tough competition; losing their only game against a Division-I adversary, being blown out by a tally of 69-29.  Logan Elm split their two matchups against D-I opponents, winning their most recent contest by a score of 67-44.

Freshmen Joey Burrow and Ryan Luehrman are major pieces to Athens’ success, but their playoff inexperience, combined with a potentially sidelining injury to senior Nick Stanley, may be enough to give Logan Elm a slight edge. But do not be surprised to see the consistently underrated Athens Bulldogs pull off the upset in Logan. 

The two teams clash on Friday at 6 p.m. at Logan High School.