The Athens Review
The No. 23-ranked Athens Hornets are finding different ways to win key ball games this season and fans are seeing a fast-paced team under second-year coach Gerald Anthony.
Saturday proved to be another solid win with a 62-60 defeat of the No. 18-ranked Mexia Black Cats at AHS Gymnasium.
The Hornets have found ways to win blowout games, close games and come-from-behind contests this season.
Anthony has relied on the shooting of senior Anthony Sanders — who finished Saturday’s game with a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Sanders was huge in Saturday’s win as he was able to give the Hornets their first lead of the game at 20-19 on a fast break layup off an assist from Ryan Jefferson.
Jefferson has been another player that Anthony has counted on this season. Jefferson added 11 points and 10 rebounds and helped spark a run in the second half when Athens was facing a double-digit deficit out of the break.
“When you play the No. 18-ranked team in the state, they are going to make you play bad,” Anthony said. “We really did not get into the game until the latter part of the third quarter. They are a good team and I am glad we are not in the same region.”
With the win on Saturday, the Hornets improved to 16-1 on the year. They wrapped up the non-district schedule last night with a contest against the Lindale Eagles.
With the District 15-3A schedule set to begin on Friday with a home game against the Mabank Panthers, the coaching staff said the Hornets need to work on one area in particular for the remainder of the year.
“Rebounding,” assistant coach Mike Taylor said. “We need to get more aggressive on the boards.
Anthony said Saturday’s game was the most scrubby game that they have played all season.
The Hornets showed how tough they are as a basketball team in the third quarter against Mexia.
With only two points scored during the first six minutes of the second half, the Hornets were down 42-31 and battled to within eight at the end of the quarter.
The Hornets had strong play from post players Chris Jefferson and Josh Garrett and guards Nikell Roberts and Courtland Lyons to help cut into the deficit.
With 1:45 remaining in the quarter, Roberts went up strong on the offensive glass to secure the rebound and put back to get AHS to within 42-33 and end the scoring drought.
In the fourth quarter, Ryan Jefferson tied the game up once again at 50-50 with back-to-back jumpers.
The Hornets were able to secure the win as Sanders picked off a Mexia pass and raced down the court for the fast break layup and a 59-57 lead late in the contest.
Ryan Jefferson was then able to ice the game with three big free throws to give the Hornets the win.
“We needed a game like that and we were disoriented,” Anthony said. “We were trying to make too many plays today and we were trying to figure out what we could run that would work in the game.”