Lutz Hurt in Athens Win Over Vikings

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Griffin Lutz’s steal and layup with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter put the Athens Bulldogs up one at Vinton County; the most exciting play of the season turned into the Bulldogs’ worst nightmare when Lutz could not get up.

“We needed to do it for him,” senior Zacciah Saltzman said. “We just followed Griffin until he got injured and then we just finished it for him.”

An ankle injury kept the Athens star point guard out for the rest of the game, a game that would go into overtime. The Bulldogs’ season was over; no Lutz meant not being able to take down the lone undefeated team in TVC-Ohio play.

And then Saltzman stepped in…

Saltzman’s nine points in overtime capped off a roller coaster night for Athens as they pulled out a 79-75 upset win over the Vinton County Vikings.

Lutz, a JJ Huddle Player of the Week nominee, had been the driving force behind the Bulldogs offense all night, scoring 26 points while dishing out another four assists. He grabbed 11 rebounds, and he never turned the ball over.

“Griffin is what makes us go,” Athens coach Jeff Skinner said. “It’s going to be very difficult… we just have to keep the faith.”

Athens jumped out to an early 15-2 lead behind four straight threes from seniors Saltzman, Rodgers and Noah Skinner. Vinton County answered with multiple defensive schemes in the second quarter, keeping the Bulldogs scoreless until a Saltzman three with 2:16 left in the half. A buzzer-beater brought the Vikings within one point at halftime after being down 12 to start the quarter.

Tristan Bartoe and Derek Jones led a barrage of three-point plays in a second-half that was back and forth. With two minutes left in the third quarter, a double technical was called against Saltzman and Bo McIntyre after an altercation involving McIntyre and Noah Skinner. Bartoe joined McIntyre with a questionable technical foul of his own in overtime after Bartoe appeared to trip an Athens player during a dead-ball.

Emotions were running high the entire game. Once the final whistle blew, miniature basketballs were thrown at the refs as they left the court; a Viking assistant coach chased after them as well. In one of the most exciting games of the year, neither team came out with a win.

Vinton County looks to bounce back when they host Miami Trace on Saturday Jan. 30. Athens, most likely playing without Lutz, plays Wellston at home on Friday Jan. 29.