The Eustace Bulldogs came into AHS Gymnasium Tuesday taking down the Athens Hornets 55-46 for their second win of the year.
“Athens is a well coached basketball team. Coach (Cliff) Thompson does a great job over here and I feel like both teams were trying to feel out the game,” Eustace coach Sunny Hardy said. “This is the most evenly matched team that we have played all year long. The ball bounced our way a couple of times tonight.”
Athens (1-4) is scheduled to return to action Friday at home. They are set to face the Fairfield Eagles at 7:30 p.m. The Hornets will follow the Lady Hornets, who are scheduled to face Bullard at 6:15 p.m. Athens defeated the Lady Bulldogs, 56-25, Tuesday in Eustace.
Athens was led in scoring by Connor Woodard with 11 points. Jorian Ray had 10, Jaden Crane had nine, Connor Clay had eight, Derek Killingsworth had four and Jacorian Hemphill and Eli Rincon had two points each.
Eustace was led by Christian Case was 19 points, Paxton Schwartz with 17, Mark Patek with eight, Cooper Reeve with six and Cade Adair with five points.
“Christian Case had a great basketball game tonight,” Hardy said. “He is a kid that we believe in and that we tell him to keep on shooting. He hasn’t had a lot of success, but tonight all of his hard work paid off and he shot the ball really well. I am really proud of that kid.”
Eustace (2-3) has recently come off of quarantine following a two-week break during Thanksgiving. Hardy said that and news regarding his family had haulted a normal practice routine.
“We are getting the momentum that we need,” Hardy said. “COVID has affected us just like it has everyone else, and we have been quarantined. My wife had a baby last week so our first practice was Monday. It was the first time we have all been together and I feel like we are headed in the right direction.”
The two teams came out of the first half Tuesday tied at 21 as Patek and Schwartz led the Bulldogs with seven points each.
Athens was led by Crane with seven points as he nailed two free throws for their final points of the first half with 2:06 remaining.
Eustace then tied the game on a jumper by Schwartz with 1:30 remaining in the first half.
Hardy said he told his team that they had no reason to not believe they could win the game. “We need to slow down a little bit and find some confidence,” Hardy said. “We need to realize that we are a good basketball team.”
In the second half, the Hornets had eight field goals and went 8 of 8 from the free throw line.
They had three second half leads at 25-24 on a free throw by Hemphill, a 27-26 lead on a basket by Killingsworth and 35-33 on a basket by Clay off an assist from Crane.
Following a tie at 35 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs built up a double digit lead at 52-41 with just over a minute on a bucket by Cooper Reeve.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to return to action Friday as they host Edgewood. The first game is set to tip at 5 p.m.