Growing up next to Wellington Park in Dublin gave Luke Bartemes the opportunity he needed to develop his jump shot.
A season after he set the Dublin Coffman High School boys basketball program's record for 3-point shooting percentage at 51 percent, the 6-foot-4 senior wing player's game has come full circle.
Although his percentage from 3-point range has gone down this winter, Bartemes has developed into a more balanced offensive player while improving other major areas of his game, according to coach Jamey Collins.
With Bartemes now as the No. 2 scoring option behind junior guard Dominiq Penn, the Shamrocks have flourished.
"You always hope guys get better, but his improvement probably in all areas physically in terms of athleticism and understanding the game from one year to the next, it's so unusual," said Collins, whose team was 17-0 overall before facing Westerville North on Feb. 5. "Even though he shot the ball really well last year, he's improved just his all-around game. You're not going to play for one of the top Division II (colleges) in the country unless you have that athleticism. For him to earn that shows his development as an athlete."
Bartemes signed to play for Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, in November. The Royals went 32-2 last season and were 14-6 before Feb. 6.
The Shamrocks are 8-0 in the OCC-Central Division and already have clinched at least a share of the league championship heading into their game Friday, Feb. 8, at Central Crossing. They close league action Feb. 15 at home against Upper Arlington.
Coffman was first in the Division I area coaches poll and third in the state poll last week and will learn their district tournament drawing at the seeding meeting Sunday, Feb. 10.
Bartemes averaged 5.6 points as a sophomore when Coffman went 13-11 but was a district runner-up and averaged eight points last season when the Shamrocks were a regional semifinalist.
His scoring average had risen to 15.6 points through 17 games this season.
"Shooting has always been my strength, but over the past couple years, I've been working ... to get to the rim and make moves so I'm not just a shooter," Bartemes said. "That allows me to get open and get even more outside shots. I'm shooting it a lot more this year. I've probably shot this year already more than I did all of last year, and I've been playing more this year."
Through 17 games, Penn was averaging 19.6 points and Will Hunter, Grant Yeater, Derek Van Vlerah and Keaton Turner all were averaging between eight and 10.
Bartemes, Hunter, Van Vlerah and Yeater all are seniors and Turner is a junior.
"Everything's been going pretty well," Bartemes said. "Recently, our defense has been slowing down, so we're trying to get back on track. Offensively, we've been great so far. It's great to know you're one of the top teams in the state and can play with anyone."
Wrestlers heading to state dual tourney
The wrestling team is two wins from winning a third consecutive OCC-Central title, but one of its other goals came to fruition when it won the Division I, Region 5 championship in the team dual tournament Feb. 2 at Marysville.
It marks the third time in four seasons that the Shamrocks will compete in the state tournament, which is Sunday, Feb. 10, at Ohio State's St. John Arena.
Coffman will attempt to reverse a trend of struggles that central Ohio programs have endured at state, which includes eight teams and begins with a quarterfinal round.
The Shamrocks lost to Brecksville-Broadview Heights 40-29 in a state quarterfinal in 2016 and fell to Lakewood St. Edward 57-16 in a state quarterfinal in 2017.
No area Division I program has won a dual at the state tournament, which began in 2013.
"We've got to go down to represent central Ohio," coach Chance Van Gundy said. "We don't get a lot of respect state-wide, so it's time to go down and earn it."
Coffman is 3-0 in the OCC-Central heading into its league match Thursday, Feb. 7, at UA and closes its league schedule Feb. 14 against Hilliard Davidson.
At regional, the Shamrocks were the top seed and beat eighth-seeded Big Walnut 69-6, fourth-seeded Delaware 56-15 and second-seeded and host Marysville 40-16 to advance to state.
In the regional final, Rupert Moore (106 pounds), Corey Crawford (113), Jimmy Baumann (120), Davante Cooper (126) and Ismael Ayoub (132) each won to give Coffman a 22-0 lead. After Marysville won the next five matches, Lennox Wolak (182) and Seth Shumate (195) wrapped up the regional title with back-to-back pins and Eric Feng (heavyweight) won by forfeit.
Wolak is the only holdover from the team that made it to state in 2016 and both he and Jacob Hamed, who lost his match at 145 against Marysville, competed for Coffman at state in 2017.
The wins by Crawford and Cooper were among the most crucial in the regional final, according to Van Gundy.
"Last year, I didn't really have a good sectional tournament and was a district alternate, so that's been what's fueling me for this year," Cooper said.
Girls basketball team adds to title streak
With a 76-37 victory over Marysville on Jan. 31, the girls basketball team wrapped up its fourth consecutive league championship and 35th league victory in a row.
Coffman lost to Canton McKinley 68-65 on Feb. 4 and was 18-2 overall before facing Westerville North on Feb. 5. The Shamrocks are 9-0 in the OCC-Central heading into their league finale Thursday, Feb. 7, at home against Central Crossing.
The matchup with McKinley featured last year's Ms. Basketball honoree, Bulldogs senior Kierstan Bell, against the runner-up to Ms. Basketball, the Shamrocks' Jacy Sheldon. Both players have committed to Ohio State. McKinley was ranked third in last week's Division I state poll.
The Shamrocks trailed 67-65 and had the ball late in the game against McKinley but missed a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left.
Sheldon had 25 points and Bell scored 21.
In one of its final regular-season tune-ups, Coffman rallied from a 15-point deficit to win 72-68 at Westerville South on Jan. 29.
The Shamrocks lost to the Wildcats in a district championship game last season, and the teams are in the same bracket for this year's Division I district tournament.
Coffman is seeded third in the tournament and will play host to 39th-seeded Grove City in the first round Feb. 16. South is the sixth seed.
"We chipped away play by play (in the win over the Wildcats)," junior guard Julianna Burris said. "We made shots when it counted on offense. I think this really boosts our confidence, definitely. It's a big turnaround and really helps us out."
Imarianah Russell had 28 points against South and scored 22 against Marysville to increase her average to 16.5 through 19 games. Sheldon had 25 points and Burris scored 14 against South.
Sheldon, who scored 29 against the Monarchs and was averaging 28.2 through 19 games, had 2,205 career points before Feb. 5.
According to the OHSAA website, only 25 other players in state history have scored at least 2,200 career points.
"Julianna, Kaitlyn (Kopyar) and Riley (Wagoner), in addition to Imarianah and Jacy, can all have their moments," coach Bryan Patton said. "They all can impact in some ways. You've got to have that against a team (like South). Our girls are happy."
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman boys basketball, girls basketball, gymnastics, hockey, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 8 - At Central Crossing. The Shamrocks beat the Comets 77-40 on Jan. 4.
*Feb. 7 - Home vs. Central Crossing. The Shamrocks beat the Comets 89-19 on Jan. 4.
Feb. 9 - OCC-Central meet at Thomas
Feb. 7-10 - TBA in Blue Jackets Cup tournament
SWIMMING & DIVING
Feb. 9 - Division I sectional at Kenyon College. The winner of each event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Feb. 15 at Ohio State. There is no diving at sectional.
*Feb. 7 - At Upper Arlington
Feb. 10 - Division I state dual tournament in Ohio State's St. John Arena