Bulldogs Claim TVC-Ohio with Narrow Win

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Andrew Stephens only scored a single point Friday to go along with two assists and three steals.

Yet in one solitary instance, he clinched the TVC-Ohio for his Athens Bulldogs (14-4, 10-1 TVC-Ohio) Friday against the visiting Meigs Marauders (10-10, 5-5). With under a minute left and Athens ahead by one, Stevens intercepted an inbounds pass to raucous cheers from the packed McAfee Gymnasium and was sent to the line after an intentional foul.

Stephens made the first, but missed the second. Meigs only had to get the rebound for a chance to erase their inbound mistake.

But it was senior Justin Hynes’ turn to be the hero, and he made sure the Marauders didn’t get that chance. An offensive rebound and two converted free throws later, the Bulldogs had secured both a 55-51 victory and their conference title.

Neither team managed to gain comfortable separation in the time leading up to Stevens’ climactic steal, as the biggest lead either team built was seven. Meigs appeared to be getting the better of the Bulldogs in the early goings, leading 14-10 despite two early fouls on their senior floor general Zach Bartrum. The Marauders were able to hang around with the much larger Athens team, attacking inside and collecting more than their share of rebounds.

Athens would not take the lead until the 1:35 mark of the second quarter, as the Bulldogs got some easy open-court baskets, specifically Logan Maxfield, who scored six points in the second quarter off fast break lay-ins alone.

The second half saw Athens make a few adjustments – namely using their size more effectively and utilizing a 3-2 defense that gave Meigs a lot of trouble.

The opening seconds of the second half saw big man Isaiah Butcher get the ball on the block, turn into the lane and dump the ball off to fellow big man Hynes in what would be a trend of bruising interior offense for the Bulldogs. Athens bigs also punished the Marauders in the pick and roll, slipping screens, receiving the ball early and putting it through the hoop before Meigs’ zone could react.

For Meigs, Weston Baer led the way, hitting very timely shots on his way to 20 points. Baer kept Meigs’ hopes alive for much of the game; drilling back to back threes with 4:45 remaining in the third quarter at a time where the Marauders chances might’ve otherwise slipped away.

The opposite was the case for Athens, as scoring was well-dispersed amongst the Bulldogs. It was a true team effort from a seasoned Bulldogs team, as four players, Butcher, Hynes, Maxfield, and Elijah Williams finished with eight or more points.

Athens will travel to Lancaster on Saturday, while Meigs will return home to play Nelsonville-York on Tuesday.