It was a shot that Dublin Coffman High School boys basketball player Nate Axelrod had practiced -- and pictured in his mind -- numerous times.
Axelrod's basket on a floating shot down the lane with 5.4 seconds remaining lifted the Shamrocks to a 46-44 win over host Reynoldsburg on Jan. 18.
Coffman improved to 12-1 overall. The Shamrocks also lead the OCC-Central Division at 7-1.
"Just growing up you always want to do those kind of things, finish off games, make the big play and help us win," Axelrod said. "It's an (isolation play), so I have the whole lane to work with, got in and made something happen. I've worked on that shot. I shot it over a thousand times over the summer, so I have pretty good confidence with it."
With the game tied at 44 and 1:03 remaining, the Shamrocks held the ball for nearly a minute before Axelrod began his move from the right of the key with about 9 seconds left, driving past guard Jarius Ward and down the lane for the game-winner.
Reynoldsburg's Travis Gleason missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
Coffman trailed 38-33 early in the fourth quarter.
C.J. Saunders' 3-pointer gave Coffman a 44-43 lead with 1:30 remaining. The Raiders' Josh McCoy then hit one of two free throws to tie the game, setting up Axelrod's heroics.
"Nate spends countless hours in the gym working on his floaters and different types of things," coach Jamey Collins said. "These are the moments you do that for, so it pays off in a game like this. If anybody deserves it, he certainly deserves to hit one of those shots."
Seth Fuller led the Shamrocks with 14 points. Saunders scored 11 and Axelrod had nine.
"We knew it was going to come down to probably the last possession," Collins said. "If you look at (Reynoldsburg's) games, they've pretty much all come down to the last possession. We knew it was going to be a tough game."
Axelrod, a 5-foot-7 senior point guard, wouldn't mind having another chance to make that shot, especially in a league game or during the postseason.
"I love the pressure," he said. "I'm definitely shooting the same shot."
Since losing 43-40 at Upper Arlington on Jan. 10, the Shamrocks have won three consecutive games as they look to build momentum during the second round of league play.
Coffman defeated Hilliard Davidson in a pair of league contests last week, 71-44 on Jan. 14 and 52-39 on Jan. 17. The first game, which was at Davidson, was a makeup from Dec. 6.
Fuller scored 24 points and Axelrod and Saunders each added 10 in the first game. Luke Vargo had 14 points and Fuller added 12 in the rematch.
The Shamrocks lead UA (6-1) by one-half game in the league. The teams meet again Feb. 14 at Coffman.
Jerome remains in league title race
Jerome remained in contention in the OCC-Cardinal with a 78-60 win Jan. 17 over visiting Hilliard Bradley.
Connor Kerns led a balanced attack with 15 points, followed by Seve Stavroff, Mason Baich, Nate Szekely and Colton Irion with 13 each.
Westerville Central leads the league at 7-1, followed by Westerville South (6-2), Jerome (5-2) and Hilliard Darby (5-3).
The Celtics, who were 6-6 overall before playing Grove City on Jan. 21, visit Darby on Friday, Jan. 24.
Scioto looking for consistent play
Scioto was 2-11 overall before playing Marysville on Jan. 21.
The Irish lost at Westerville Central 58-32 on Jan. 17 to fall to 0-8 in the OCC-Cardinal. Derek Scott scored seven points.
"We obviously aren't winning as much as we would like," coach Mike Moler said. "Guys are playing hard, but we haven't played consistently enough for an entire game to win.
"Hopefully we can keep grinding and play our best basketball moving forward."