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Athens Bulldogs Nelsonville-York Buckeyes
(Jack Demmler/WOUB)

Nelsonville-York Hangs with Athens Early, but Falter in Second Half

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio- Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Athens Bulldogs may have overlooked the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes Tuesday night.

The fast-paced game saw the teams trading buckets early, but the Buckeyes found themselves ahead deep into the second quarter. Down 26-20, the Bulldogs were on their heels against a motivated NY squad.

From that point on, Athens took over the game on both ends to take come out on top 68-50 to sweep the season series against the Buckeyes.

While NY came out firing with a balanced attack, Athens hung in the game thanks to the scoring of junior Brayden Whiting. Whiting helped push the ball in transition to get to the rim and get easy shots. He ended the first half with 17 points, over half of the output from the Bulldogs.

Whiting’s performance was matched with an impressive offensive first two quarters from Nelsonville. Each of their five starters had at least three points at the half. They were led by Mikey Seel with seven and Austin Thrapp with six. The Buckeyes ended the half down only two, 32-30.

The second half was a different story. Athens head coach Mickey Cozart made the decision to switch to a zone defense that stifled the Buckeyes offensively. Whiting got help from Brayden Markins offensively in the second half. He made half of his 14 two-point shot attempts and helped the Buckeyes quickly push the lead to double digits after the break.

Cozart said the zone wasn’t preferred for the Bulldogs, but ended up being a big factor in their dominant second half.

“Unfortunately, we had to switch to the zone,” Cozart said. “We don’t exactly want to do that, but it is what it is and it got the job done.”

Whiting led the team with 24 points, while Markins was right behind him with 21 on the night to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds. Together, they shot 14-15 from the free-throw line, a 93% clip.

(Jack Demmler/WOUB)
(Jack Demmler/WOUB)
(Jack Demmler/WOUB)

Athens pulled out the game even though they were shorthanded. The Bulldogs were without Isaiah Butcher for the entire game, and less than a minute into the third quarter, Will Matters suffered an ankle injury that caused him to miss the rest of the action.

While Nelsonville put together a solid half, they couldn’t keep put together a complete effort. Inconsistency has plagued them and is the main reason they find themselves at the bottom of the TVC Ohio, but putting together a competitive effort against one of the best teams in the conference bodes well for their progress on the year.

Thrapp led the way for the Buckeyes with 12 points. Ethan Gail also ended in double digits with 10. This marks the ninth consecutive loss for Nelsonville.

Both teams have road games to end the week. Nelsonville will take on the Vikings of Vinton County on Friday, while Athens will head to Pomeroy to take on the Meigs Marauders on Friday as well.