First-year Dublin Jerome High School boys basketball coach Jamie Pearson would like to see the excitement emanating from his players spread throughout the community.
"The kids are playing well and are really excited," he said. "Hopefully, we have people getting excited for Jerome basketball, and things are heating up for us. ... It seems like everyone picked Westerville Central and Westerville South to win the (OCC-Cardinal Division), so we have our work cut out for us."
The Celtics were 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Westerville South on Jan. 8. They will play host to Westerville Central on Friday, Jan. 10. Central and South entered the week 5-0 and 3-2 in league play, respectively.
Central is led by 6-foot-5 senior wing player Eric James and 6-4 senior post player Kwamel Wade. James, who has committed to play at Duquesne, was averaging 19.1 points through eight games and Wade was averaging 13.9.
"James will be a challenge for us, so we have to come out and play harder than they do," Pearson said. "We have to be ready to play and be at our best if we are going to beat them."
The Celtics defeated Canal Winchester 51-47 in a league game Jan. 3. Seve Stavroff , a sophomore guard, had a team-high 16 points, including three 3-pointers, followed by Connor Kerns with 12 points and Mason Baich with nine.
Stavroff also led a balanced attack in a 58-42 league win over Hilliard Bradley on Dec. 30 with 18 points, including three 3-pointers. Baich, Kerns, Clayton Colvin and Nate Szekely scored six points apiece.
"Seve has gotten a lot better for us as a scorer, but he's a creator first," Pearson said. "He runs the point and has averaged five or six assists per game. It's amazing how much that comes first and the shot becomes secondary."
Jerome lost to Franklin Heights 56-55 on Dec. 28 before bouncing back to beat Bradley and Canal Winchester. Baich had a team-high 27 points against the Falcons, followed by Colton Irion with 12 points and Kerns with nine.
Shamrocks preparing to face Golden Bears
Coffman is looking to continue its recent success against Upper Arlington.
The Shamrocks, who were 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Central before playing defending league champion Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 8, travel to UA on Friday, Jan. 10, for a league game. The Golden Bears entered the week 3-1 in the league and 8-1 overall.
Coffman won both meetings last season, defeating the Bears 67-54 at home and 62-53 on the road, and is 11-4 against UA since the 2006-07 season.
"It's been quite a rivalry for the past five years or so," coach Jamey Collins said. "I've had the opportunity to see (UA play) a couple of times this season and they look like they are playing well."
Liberty entered the week atop the OCC-Central standings at 5-0. Coffman was a half game behind the Patriots and UA and Thomas Worthington were tied for third.
UA is led by Kevin Vannatta, who has committed to the North Carolina-Asheville. The 6-3 senior guard was averaging 16.3 points through nine games.
"They are always putting five guys out there who can dribble and shoot, and their defense, from what I have seen, has been outstanding," Collins said of UA.
"Vannatta is a great scorer and a tough matchup.
"We hope our young guys are ready for the challenge. It's usually a great atmosphere when we play UA and our guys have responded well in the past."
The Shamrocks defeated Warrensville Heights 70-68 on Dec. 28 in the Play 4 Cancer Shootout at Massillon Jackson. Luke Vargo had a team-high 21 points, including three 3-pointers, and Nate Axelrod scored 18.
Coffman then beat Westland 81-39 in a league game Jan. 3 behind 32 points from Vargo, who had five 3-pointers. Noah Gleason added 13 points, including three 3s, and C.J. Saunders scored 12.
Irish looking to turn around their season
Scioto was 1-8 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Bradley on Jan. 7.
The Irish lost to Darby 53-25 in league play Jan. 3. Derek Scott had a team-high seven points and Elyjah Nelson and Nick Pothoven both scored six.
Pothoven had 16 points, including four 3-pointers, in a 61-38 loss to Granville on Dec. 30 and Nelson had 15 points and Kalib Wallace scored 10 in a 69-40 league loss to Westerville South on Dec. 23.