Jamie Pearson is enjoying his first season as coach of the Dublin Jerome High School boys basketball team.
The Celtics remained in the OCC-Cardinal Division title chase with a 58-57 win Jan. 24 at Hilliard Darby.
Sophomore Colton Irion's layup with 3 seconds remaining gave the Celtics the lead. Darby had a chance to win, but committed a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass.
"I'm embracing our youth," Pearson said. "We know the guys will make some mistakes, but they are always willing to work and play so hard for us. It makes it fun to coach them and so enjoyable watching them grow up and improve right in front of you on a daily basis."
Jerome are 7-8 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Cardinal. The Celtics were third in the league behind Westerville Central (8-1) and Westerville South (7-2) and ahead of North (5-3) and Darby (5-4).
Jerome plays host to South on Feb. 7 and visits Central on Feb. 14.
"There's a lot of good teams (in the league)," Pearson said.
"All the Westervilles are good. We're just trying to establish a program, so all we're going to do is take it game-by-game and we'll see what happens. ... There's no easy wins in the league."
Against Darby, the Celtics led 50-43 late in the third quarter before the Panthers rallied to take a 55-52 lead on Taylor Van Winkle's 3-pointer with 2:51 left in the game.
Nate Szekely and Blake Bickett each followed with two free throws to give Jerome a 56-55 lead. After Brandon Hook's inside basket gave Darby a 57-56 lead, Connor Kerns assisted on Irion's winning basket.
"In open gyms, coach Pearson would tell me that game-winners are always important and the few times I'd miss them he'd come up to me and talk about it," Irion said. "I finally made one when it counted."
Mason Baich led the Celtics with 15 points, but was held scoreless in the second half.
"We have to get him more shots," Pearson said. "We were trying a little stuff in there, but it's a signature of a young team. He's one of our big guys and we have to get him shots."
Alex Cline added 12 points and Irion scored 10.
Jerome played without Seve Stavroff, who was ill. Pearson said Bickett saw limited playing time because of illness.
"We've been hit by the flu bug pretty hard," Pearson said. "Bickett, our point guard, practiced about 10 minutes (last) week. Cline missed a day of practice. Another one of our big kids, (Jacob) Snitkin, had it. I had it for two days. It's a true testament to us. We struggled a little bit, but overcame stuff."
Van Winkle led Darby with 26 points, including seven 3-pointers. The win gave Jerome a sweep of the Panthers, as the Celtics also won 65-53 on Dec. 13 at home.
The win also helped Jerome bounce back from a 72-69 loss Jan. 21 at Grove City. The Celtics led 37-32 at halftime, but were outscored 25-15 in the third quarter.
Stavroff led Jerome with 26 points. Baich had 17, Irion scored 14 and Kerns had 10.
Jerome lost at Centennial 64-63 on Jan. 25 on Anthony Slappy's last-second basket after the Celtics went on an 8-0 run to take a 63-62 lead with 16 seconds remaining. Baich scored 18 points, Stavroff had 13 and Irion added 12.
Coffman slips to second in league
Coffman fell to second place in the OCC-Central with a 54-53 loss Jan. 24 at Marysville.
The Shamrocks entered the week 12-2 overall and 7-2 in the league. Their league game against visiting Thomas Worthington on Jan. 28 was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Feb. 8.
Coffman trailed first-place Upper Arlington (7-1). The Shamrocks play host to UA on Feb. 14.
Coffman led Marysville 53-51 before the Monarchs' Drew Mellen converted the winning three-point play. Mellen, who led Marysville with 19 points, scored after an offensive rebound and was fouled as time expired.
The Shamrocks couldn't hold a seven-point lead late in the third quarter. Seth Fuller led Coffman with 18 points and Nate Axelrod scored 10.
Coffman's game at Dayton Stivers on Jan. 25 was postponed because of bad weather.
Scioto seeks first league win
Scioto was 2-13 overall and 0-9 in the OCC-Cardinal.
The Irish lost at home to Westerville North 84-34 on Jan. 24. The Warriors led 21-6 after one quarter and outscored Scioto 31-1 in the second.
Scott Berg scored nine points for the Irish.
Scioto lost at Marysville 62-42 on Jan. 21 as Zac Brown scored 11 points.