Athens Back In Title Hunt

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The Athens Bulldogs took control of their destiny in the TVC-Ohio with a 52-44 win over first-place Vinton County Friday night. Joe Burrow endured shooting woes and a minor injury late in the game, delivering 13 points and 13 rebounds to power Athens ahead.

Athens held control throughout the majority of the contest.

Vinton County senior Jordan Kidd scored eight points in the first quarter as the primary offensive weapon for the Vikings, but the Bulldogs emerged from a neck-and-neck first quarter with a 13-10 lead and never relinquished that advantage.

A 5-0 run at the start of the second quarter ignited McAfee Gymnasium and gave Athens all the cushion it needed for the remainder of the game.

“One of the things we had written down on our chalk board is ‘No rhythm shots,’ and we gave (Kidd) three in the first quarter for eight points, ” Athens head coach Jeff Skinner said. “We had to find him early and then we had to keep track of him. We didn’t do a very good job of that in the first quarter. In the second quarter we really did.”

Kidd only made one shot in the final three quarters and finished with 11 points.

Jared Elmore provided a spark early in the second half when Vinton County tried to battle back. The senior scored seven big points in the third quarter to take control of the paint on the offensive end.

On defense Athens also controlled the inside, holding Vinton County to 13-of-42 on two-point field goals. Elmore and sophomore Adam Luehrman combined for five blocks. Vinton County did not shoot a single free throw in the game.

Vinton County could not battle back in the fourth quarter. The Vikings came as close as six points in the final four minutes, but a steal by Luehrman off a Vikings inbound pass sealed the result with 10 seconds remaining.

Burrow and Watson led a balanced Athens scoring attack with 13 points apiece. Zacciah Saltzman was a catalyst in the first half with seven points and finished with nine. Elmore contributed nine points and 10 rebounds, and fellow senior Sawyer Summers added seven points.

Athens (11-2, 3-1 TVC Ohio) remains a half game behind Vinton County (10-3, 4-1) in the TVC-Ohio standings. A win against Meigs Saturday would spring the Bulldogs ahead of the Vikings.

“(Saturday) is a new day and it didn’t matter what we did tonight,” Skinner said. “Meigs is playing really well. They’ll be solid defensively, they’ll take big shots, they won’t turn it over. We’ll have to play well to win.”