RECAP: Bulldogs Win In Rivalry, Lady Bulldogs Struggle

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It’s never too early to renew a rivalry.

On Friday night, the Athens Bulldogs (3-2) took on TVC-Ohio foe Vinton County (3-2) to write another chapter to the two’s storied rivalry.

“I love this rivalry,” Athens head coach Mickey Cozart said. “Coach [Matt] Combs is one of the best in the area. We know he’s going to have his teams ready and it will always be a fight.”

Last year, the teams faced off three times, including a matchup in the first round of the playoffs that saw the Vikings end the Bulldogs’ season.

Friday night’s battle came down to the wire that saw the Bulldogs win 41-38.

The last two games, the Bulldogs have had to seal the deal late in the game. In both games, it was senior guard Logan Maxfield who made two massive plays that made the difference late.

Maxfield stole the ball late against Chesapeake, went coast-to-coast for the 3-point play that helped give the Bulldogs the 63-57 win.

“[Maxfield’s] in the best shape of his life right now and it shows,” Cozart said. “We don’t take him out of ball games and honestly he could probably play a couple more quarters and still have some left in the tank.”

Cozart left Maxfield in against Vinton County, and Maxfield rewarded Cozart. Again, he did the same thing against his bitter enemy. He stole the ball in the final minute of the game that led to Elijah Williams knocking down two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 3-point lead.

The Vikings had one last chance, but their three to tie the game fell short.

This an upperclassmen-driven Bulldog team and that’s why the team has been able to come through in close games like their previous two. They’ve been here before.

“We step up due to the fact these guys have been there,” Cozart said. “They’ve played a ton of close games and are not going to panic.”

The Bulldogs will hope to extend to win their win streak to three games when they travel to take on Nelsonville-York on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

For the Lady Bulldogs, the story is different.

Athens (2-5) fell to the Vinton County Lady Vikings (6-0) 64-34 last Monday and then again to the Nelsonville-York Lady Buckeyes (3-2) on Thursday 51-25.

Simply put, the 29.5 points per game the Lady Bulldogs are averaging is not enough to take down the top of the conference.

For the Lady Bulldogs to see improvement on that side of the floor, they need their leader, junior guard Laura Manderick, to be more efficient. Manderick was just 4-for-15 with 18 points on Monday and then had 11 points on Thursday.

But Manderick, like all leading scorers need, is a sidekick. Manderick has scored 29 of the team’s 59 points the last two games.

The Lady Bulldogs need more production from three of their seniors: Emma Harter, Lilly Mills and Kaylee Stewart. The three combined for four points against the Lady Vikings and then again struggled against the Lady Buckeyes.

Another factor going forward for the Lady Bulldogs is defending players in the post. The Bentley sisters both had strong games on Monday and then the Hurd sisters for the Lady Buckeyes both had double-doubles. It’ll be important going forward that the Lady Bulldogs can prevent other teams from dominating the rebound margin and points in the paint.