Athens Bulldogs Marietta Tigers
(Chloe Gee/WOUB)

Patience Advances Athens to Sectional Final

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LOGAN, Ohio – Athens avenged a regular-season loss to Marietta 62 to 36 Tuesday night at Logan High School to advance to the Sectional Championship game.

The Bulldogs entered the game coming off of a tough beatdown by Jackson on Friday and Marietta was confident with wins in their prior four games.

Turnovers caused concern for Athens at the start. The first three possessions ended in this stat and Athens, a team that averages over 60 points a game, was held to just 10 points after the first quarter. But their defense held allowing Marietta to score seven points.

The second quarter brought success for the ‘Dogs. Fourth-year Head Coach Mickey Cozart made defensive adjustments and the offense clicked too. Behind Brayden Markin’s pull-up jumpers and Andrew Stephen’s quick hands, Athens won the second quarter 15-9 to pull ahead at the half, 25-16.

A quick resurgence brought Marietta closer in the third quarter. They started to feed their big man Adam Coil, who put the Bulldogs’ best scorer, Brayden Whiting, in foul trouble. The Junior picked up his third foul early in quarter three but Coach Cozart decided to keep in.

“It wasn’t a tough decision; we put Markins in the middle of the zone and Whiting in the corner to protect him,” he said.

With Whiting staying in the game, Athens began to roll in the third. The Bulldogs shut down Marietta on the inside and the Tigers could not find success from outside-the-arc. All of this combined for a 19-point lead heading into the fourth.

The ball was bouncing the Bulldogs’ way in the fourth and the basket seemed like it was double the size. In the final frame Athens pulled ahead to a 62 to 36 sectional semi-final win over Marietta.

Athens senior Markins led the Bulldogs with 22-points.

“It felt pretty great too because they beat us on a buzzer-beater in the first game…to get a win tonight, it felt great,” he Markins.

“It feels a lot better than the first time we played ’em,” said Cozart about avenging the regular-season loss in January. “This was the first full-game that we had played all year.”

Cozart had a lot to be proud of with four out of five starters in double figures – Nate Trainer was just one point away from double digits.

The three others above ten points were Whiting with 12, Will Matters with 11 and Stephens with 10.

A win gives Athens a shot to get their third sectional title in four years against New Lexington.

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