Despite a large home crowd contingent, the Upper Arlington High School boys basketball team lost their last regular season contest 55-49 in overtime against Dublin Coffman on Feb. 18.
Coffman improved to 16-3 overall and Upper Arlington dropped to 19-1. Both teams finished tied atop the OCC-Central Division at 13-1.
It was the largest crowd in UA boys basketball history. The gymnasium included a "white-out" by the Upper Arlington student section and the crowd was so large, many fans in attendance had to watch the game on television in the school's auditorium.
The visiting Shamrocks overcame that setting to lead by eight points at halftime. Coffman silenced the crowd before halftime after Zack Riddle made a 3-pointer followed by an Eric Weisenbach put back right before the buzzer. Coffman led 32-24. Riddle and Christian Heine combined to score 34 of Coffman's 55 points.
"We had our backs against the wall. We got totally outplayed in the first half," Bears assistant coach Greg Allocco said. "[Give] credit to Dublin Coffman, they were absolutely ready to go. They were prepared and played with great purpose. They had us on our heels."
Coffman carried the momentum into the third quarter, as the Shamrocks received offense from Matt DiThomas. His key shot in the lane provided Coffman its largest lead of the game 36-24.
Sullivan was the only consistent scorer for UA. He finished with 23 points followed by Wes Richter with 11 points. The Bears rode a late offensive streak to tie the game at 43 late in the fourth quarter after Sullivan threw a no-look pass to Richter for an easy two points. The Bears held on for an overtime period, but could not stop the quick and efficient guard play of the Coffman backcourt. The Shamrocks rode a string of free throws to guide them to a win, a split in the season series with Upper Arlington and a share of the OCC-Central title.
"We rallied well and put forth a great game effort after halftime," Bears head coach Tim Casey said. "Everyone had to take the personal challenge and everyone had to contribute. We certainly had opportunities, but we just got beat by a more prepared team tonight."
Despite the loss, Upper Arlington remained positive.
"We have the best fans," Bears post player A.J. Norman said. "We couldn't pull through [tonight], but now it's tournament time and we won't disappoint."
After receiving a first-round bye, third-seeded Upper Arlington opens Division I district tournament play 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25, at Hilliard Bradley against Thomas Worthington. UA defeated Thomas 65-39 on Dec. 7 and 45-43 on Jan. 21.