Miami Trace Pulls Away from Athens with Second Half Surge

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Basketball games are won and lost in the second half, the first place Miami Trace Panthers ended the Athens Bulldogs season with a 62-53 victory to advance to the regional finals in the Division II postseason.

Athens faced a tough test all game long. Not only having the task of beating the first place team, but also facing a team that is much bigger than them.

The Bulldogs resorted to their three-point shooters and a drive-and-kick strategy to score.

Sharpshooter Dalton Cozart had eight points for the Bulldogs in the first half.

The Panthers utilized their size to their advantage. Overpowering Athens on both the offensive and defensive sides of the glass.

Although Athens was only down 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs kept the Panthers and their fans on the edge of their seats.

Griffin Lutz had a tough game as Miami Trace seemed to have the perfect game plan to stifle his explosive offensive skills. The Panthers doubled-teamed Lutz every time he brought up the ball, forcing him to find open teammates.

At the end of the first half, Lutz was driving down the court and slipped on the court and his head smacked the knee of a Panther defender. Lutz walked off the court on his own power and returned to action in the second half.

Lutz was held scoreless in the first half. Despite no points from Lutz, Athens was only down 25-21 at the break.

Coming out of the locker room, the Bulldogs did not look like the same team. Turnovers and fast-break points for Miami Trace began to wear down the Bulldogs.

Miami Trace forced 17 Bulldog turnovers throughout the entire game.

The Panthers outscored Athens 21-11 in the third quarter, increasing their lead to 14 entering the final eight minutes of the game.

Athens could not overcome the Panthers lead and sent out their seniors for one final time in a Bulldog uniform.

Cozart led the Bulldogs with 13 points and Lutz finished his illustrious career for Athens with eight points.

Athens finishes with a 14-10 record overall and 9-3 in TVC-Ohio play.

Miami Trace returns to action on March 10th to face the winner of Fairfield Union and Chillicothe.