Hardwood Heroes

River Valley hands Athens their first in-conference loss of the season  

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BIDWELL, Ohio (WOUB) – The Athens Lady Bulldogs traveled to Bidwell to take on the River Valley Raiders for their second in-conference matchup of the season, and the Raiders would win this close game, 47-43, handing the Bulldogs their first TVC-Ohio loss of the season.  


Heading into this game, Athens would have a 5-game win streak on the line, with River Valley trying to close the gap between the two teams for the title race.  


The first quarter would be sluggish for both teams, as both offenses struggled to get the ball into the hoop. Midway into the quarter, the Raiders would find their offensive spark and lead the Bulldogs, 8-2. But Athens would go on a run of their own with easy baskets by Ella Chapman and free throws from Olivia Smart.  


At the end of the first quarter, Athens would lead River Valley, 10-8, with Chapman having 6 points and 4 rebounds already in this game for the Bulldogs.  


The second quarter would look different defensively for Athens, as head coach Phil Koska would make the Bulldogs play a zone defense to slow down River Valley. But the Raiders would find open looks for players to make shots, and keep this game close in the first half.  


At the end of the second quarter, Athens would still hold a two-point lead over the Raiders, 18-16.  


For the second half, both teams would shoot better from in the paint and beyond the 3-point line. River Valley would start off the third quarter by making three straight 3-pointers, giving the Raiders a 7-point lead over the Bulldogs. With River Valley beginning to make more and more shots in the third, Athens ended up going back to man-to-man defense to finish out the rest of the game.  


By the end of the third quarter, the Raiders would lead the Bulldogs, 38-28. 


The fourth quarter would become the Bulldogs highest scoring quarter, as they would put up 15 points and cut into River Valley’s lead with multiple baskets made by Ella Chapman and Bristol Stump. Athens would also get several steals in this quarter as the Raiders held the ball to create longer offensive possessions for themselves, but would turn the ball over.  


With 1:43 left in the game, River Valley would lead Athens 42-39. To try and get more offensive possessions, the Bulldogs had to foul the Raiders to put River Valley players at the free-throw line and make crucial free throws down the stretch of this game. Athens’ starters Ella Chapman and Olivia Smart would end up fouling out of the game with less than a minute left.  


But after two critical free-throws, the Raiders would pull away from the Bulldogs, and win this matchup, 47-43.  


According to Athens head coach, Phil Koska, he says that this loss definitely shakes up the TVC. “This puts a lot more pressure on ourselves that every TVC game is now ten times more important,” said Koska. “We just gotta handle business at every game, and not worry about the records until the end of the season.”  


The main contributors for Athens this game were Ella Chapman, Olivia Smart and Bristol Stump. Chapman led the team with 19 points, 8 steals and 6 rebounds. Smart helped with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, and Stump tallied 6 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals.  


The Bulldogs look to bounce back after this loss against the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes at home, January 22.