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High School Basketball: Spirits high for on-fire Alexander
Early in the season, when hopes were fleeting for Alexander, it was a two-game winning streak that kept its season alive. Then Athens began to crush those hopes once again.
The Spartans began the season 2-7 in their first nine games but upset heavy favorite Nelsonville-York to get back on track. They won their next game as well.
Things seemed to be getting better for Alexander. After defeating River Valley Jan. 17 to notch their fourth win of the season, the Spartans faced Athens — and five games later, Alexander is still looking for its fifth win of the season.
“We’re looking forward to getting a home one on Friday night when we play Athens, who is a pretty good team,” Alexander coach Blaine Gabriel said. “Our spirits are up, we keep working hard, and you know that’s all we can do.”
Athens, on the other hand, is only one game out of first place in the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division and will be looking to break .500 when the team travels to Albany tonight to take on the Spartans.
The Bulldogs are 2-5 in their last seven games after starting the season 5-2, and will also be looking to get their season back on track and to compete for a TVC-Ohio crown.
In the last match up between the two teams, the score barely reflected what happened during the contest. Alexander led heading into half time, but a few rookie mistakes resulted in a 14-point win for the Bulldogs.
“We came out and played pretty well the first quarter-and-a-half,” Gabriel said. “Athens is a good team, and you can’t have little mental mistakes (against them).”
One thing Alexander will try to limit is fouls. An inexperienced team with little depth, Alexander has had multiple starters on the bench early in ball games not because of injury, but foul trouble.
“We’ve been in a lot of foul trouble in the last four games,” Gabriel said. “Why? I don’t know, but we have been. It hasn’t been a concern all season, and then all of a sudden in the last four games it has been.”
The last time the two teams faced off in Albany, the Bulldogs won in double-overtime.
“We want to make sure we finish on a good note, and if we could upset Athens here Friday night, that’d be a nice little thing to do for us,” Gabriel said.
Athens @ Alexander
7:15 tonight (Albany, Ohio)
— Athens is one game out of first place in the TVC-Ohio standings.
— Alexander is 0-4 on its recent four-game road trip.
— Athens defeated Alexander at home earlier in the season 52-38.