Hardwood Heroes

Our Morgan Anderson breaks down the matchup between the Hillsboro Indians and Athens Bulldogs on February 18th, 2023.

Athens Bulldogs season falls short in loss to Hillsboro

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — The Athens Bulldogs (7-16, 6-6) season fell short after a tough contest against the Hillsboro Indians (6-17, 2-8), who came out on top with a final score of 52-37.  

The matchup was the first in history the two teams had played and made it a difficult game to predict. The seedings sat close, too. Athens was seeded at 16 and Hillsboro at 17.  

 The Bulldogs finished the regular season fourth in the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) Ohio division.  

 Athens was slow to start. The Bulldogs did not put any points on the board until halfway through the first quarter. Once they did, though, shots started falling and they ended up on an 11-point run, holding the Indians to only six to end the quarter. 

 After putting up another 11-points in the second, Athens came out of the half with a three-point lead, showing that this was still a game that could go either way. Senior guard Levi Neal was a strong force in the first half, scoring 10-points for his own. 

 Head coach Mickey Cozart said they have been a team that has struggled in the second half, and that once again proved to be the story against Hillsboro. 

 “It’s been the same thing all year,” Cozart said. “We play pretty decent until the pressure gets really ramped up.” 

 In the third quarter, Athens slowed down while Hillsboro picked up the pace. The Indians gained the lead early in the quarter, and built upon it for the rest of the game. 

 Nathan Shadik finished with seven points, two rebounds and four assists. Landon Wheatley ended with seven points, one assist and one steal. 

 Athens’ scoring fell to a halt in the final quarter. The Bulldogs did not make a single free throw in the fourth quarter.  

In heartbreak fashion, it was the final game for seniors Nathan Shadik, Landon Wheatley, Levi Neal and Kieran Murphy.  

 “You hate to see your seniors go,” Cozart said. “When that day comes, it’s hard on me, it’s hard on them.” 

 Although their tournament run came to an end early, Cozart looks back on the season fondly.  

 “We absolutely love these kids… It’s been a fun year with these guys,” Cozart said.