Boys Basketball: Dublin Coffman expecting another strong season

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Junior guard Aidan Dring and Coffman expect to produce another strong season. The Shamrocks are scheduled to open Dec. 18 at home against OCC-Central Division rival Hilliard Davidson.

With the Dublin Coffman boys basketball team not scheduled to open until Dec. 18 at home against Hilliard Davidson, 19th-year coach Jamey Collins expects things to get complicated over the coming weeks.

For the Shamrocks, how prepared they are for the postseason figures to be important considering they believe they’ll be a factor — as they usually are — come tournament time.

“The scramble to get games will be painful but somewhat entertaining,” Collins said. “Under the circumstances, we’re doing great. Everything is day by day. We do have a lot back. We’re a little dinged up but it’s a good group that’s got a lot of experience.”

After having their 2017-18 season end in a Division I regional semifinal, the Shamrocks went 22-2 the next season and 18-7 last season, with both ending in a district semifinal.

Coffman entered last season with limited experience but got a breakthrough season from 2020 graduate Keaton Turner, who averaged 22.5 points. He was first-team all-district and the OCC-Central Division Player of the Year and signed with Wofford.

The top candidates to fill the No. 1 scoring role should be senior Nash Hostetler (6-foot-3, wing player) and junior Ajay Sheldon (6-1, guard).

Hostetler averaged 14.5 points last year and was first-team all-league as Coffman shared the title with Upper Arlington and Marysville at 8-2. Sheldon averaged 10 points and was second-team all-league.

Sheldon scored 36 points in one of Coffman’s preseason scrimmages.

“I feel great about our team this year,” said Sheldon, whose sister, 2019 graduate Jacy Sheldon, plays for Ohio State and is the Shamrocks girls program’s all-time leading scorer. “We have a great group of selfless guys that have been playing together for a couple months now. We play really well together. If everyone is giving 100 percent on defense, I believe we can be a great defensive team.

Senior Dylan Van Vlerah (6-2, wing player), junior Aidan Dring (6-0, guard) and sophomore Aiden Schmidt (6-2, guard) also were contributors last season.

Junior Ryan Lynn (6-1, guard) missed last season with an injury but is expected to be in the rotation along with junior Mason Maggs (6-3, wing player) and sophomore Kevin Kirkby (6-4, forward).

Others looking to contribute include senior Kaelib Catabay (5-9, guard) and sophomores Braden Daugherty (6-5, forward) and Nate Sommerfeld (5-9, guard).

In addition to the loss of Turner, senior forward Hammond Russell (5.5 ppg) is not back with the team and sophomore forward Gavin Headings (4.5 ppg) transferred to Pickerington Central.

“Another key would be people accepting their role and playing it at a high level,” Sheldon said. “Coach Collins and the rest of the coaching staff do a great job of putting people in a position to be successful. They don’t put anyone in a spot or role they can’t handle. It’s up to us as players to embrace our roles. We’re fully capable of making a run in the tournament. We could be a great team come tournament time.”

Junior forward Matt Butler is one of the top returnees for Jerome. He averaged seven points last winter and was honorable mention all-league.

Celtics excited

about potential

After losing 12 players to graduation from its 2018-19 team, Jerome entered last season with limited experience and finished 11-13.

Along the way, though, the Celtics had 10 players who remain a part of the program gain experience. That group showed a glimpse of what could come this season when Jerome, which was seeded 31st for last year's Division I district tournament, upset 20th-seeded Olentangy Orange 45-44 in a first-round game.

Jerome is scheduled to open Dec. 18 at home against Olentangy Berlin in what also will represent its OCC-Cardinal opener.

“We’re very excited about this group as we’ll get to have its core together for three to four straight years,” fourth-year coach Richie Beard said. “It’s one of our deepest rosters we’ve ever had. We have a lot of shot makers and a lot of length. Although we’re young, our guys gained a ton of confidence and experience last season. The season didn’t end how the guys wanted it to last season and they’ve been working extremely hard all offseason to accomplish our goals and have a different postseason.”

The top returnee is 6-3 sophomore guard Ryan Nutter, who was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district after averaging eight points.

Junior forward Matt Butler (6-5) averaged seven points and was honorable mention all-league.

Sophomore Luke Kuhlman (6-5) again joins Nutter in the backcourt after seeing key action last season, when guard Dan Lee, a 2020 graduate, averaged 16.5 points and was first-team all-league and third-team all-district.

Junior forward C.C. Ezirim (6-7), junior guard Jack Pinney (6-0) and sophomore guards Lachlan MacDonald (6-1) and Sasha Stavroff (6-0) also were contributors.

“My wish is that the season will start (Dec. 18), but as long as we can practice and still get in the gym, I’m happy about it,” Nutter said. “All that matters is that we’re playing basketball. We’ve got a lot of juniors and sophomores and I’m confident in our team.”

The only seniors are guards Andrew Butcher (6-2) and Austin Carlin (6-2).

The other juniors are David Adolph (6-5, guard), Anthony Monte (6-4, forward) and Jayden Sun (6-4, forward).

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Henry Guerrera (6-5, forward) and Max Hanneman (6-4, forward).

“Our two biggest strengths are our competitiveness and their togetherness,” Beard said. “We talk every day about toughness and a blue-collar mentality. This group embodies that. We feel we have a group that can compete at the top of our conference. We know the (OCC-Cardinal) is very deep this year with a lot of great coaches, teams and players. It will take an elite mindset to finish towards the top.

“The biggest thing for us is that we just want to play. Our kids have been busting their tails since May 26 getting after it every day in the gym and the weight room. We’re definitely excited to get it started Dec. 18.”

—Jarrod Ulrey

Lopes, Pearson 

expected to lead Irish

With just two players who have significant varsity experience, Scioto coach Mike Moler is looking for others to step up.

Returning are seniors Xavier Lopes (6-4, wing player) and Jaydon Pearson (6-0, guard), who helped the Irish win six of their first eight games before finishing 11-12 last season. “We’re young, we’re inexperienced,” said Moler, who is in his eighth season. “We have two guys who played a lot of minutes last year.”

Moler is hoping his team can turn in a consistent effort throughout the season.

“It was inconsistency (that hurt us last season) and that’s what I stress to these guys,” Moler said. “It’s hard to win in the OCC, in any league, especially when you’re inconsistent. You have to bring it every day.”

Pearson averaged 9.5 points and was named second-team all-OCC-Cardinal and honorable mention all-district a year ago.

“All of us are hard workers,” Pearson said. “We get out here every day and we work hard. We get what we have to get done so we can be ready for our games and our scrimmages.”

Also back are seniors Bradley Anderson (6-1, guard) and Mazin Tagelsir (6-0, guard).

The roster also includes seniors Max Edling (6-2, wing player) and Kevin McCray (5-10, guard), juniors Lesley Andoh (6-2, guard) and Tysen Boze (6-4, wing player) and sophomore James Maholm (5-11, guard).

Scioto is competing in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.

“It’s interesting and we’re excited (to face) new opponents,” Moler said. “There are good teams, new teams, old foes. Kilbourne is a good rivalry game for us.”

Last season, the Irish went 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Delaware for third behind champion Hilliard Bradley (14-0).

Scioto is scheduled to open Tuesday, Dec. 15, at home against Watkins Memorial.

“You can control what you can control, and right now all that outside noise you can’t control,” Moler said of the delay to the season. “We focus on when we’re in this gym, we control what we can control with uncertainty. We’re just worried about getting better.”

A key loss to graduation was Jayden Prince, who averaged 11.3 points and 4.9 rebounds to lead the Irish in both categories and was second-team all-league.

Also gone is 6-5 senior forward Joe Trent, whose family is moving to Georgia because of work commitments.

—Frank DiRenna

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COFFMAN

Coach: Jamey Collins, 19th season

Top players: Aidan Dring, Nash Hostetler, Kevin Kirkby, Ryan Lynn, Mason Maggs, Aiden Schmidt, Ajay Sheldon and Dylan Van Vlerah

Key losses: Jesse Hains, Gavin Headings, Hammond Russell and Keaton Turner

Last season: 18-7 overall

2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Coffman, Marysville and Upper Arlington (8-2), Central Crossing (4-6), Hilliard Davidson (2-8), Westland (0-10)

2020 postseason: Defeated Hilliard Darby 74-51; def. Jerome 50-45; lost to Newark 63-57 in Division I district semifinal

JEROME

Coach: Richie Beard, fourth season

Top players: Matt Butler, C.C. Ezirim, Luke Kuhlman, Lachlan MacDonald, Ryan Nutter, Jack Pinney and Sasha Stavroff

Key losses: Mikey Callahan, Jason Jewell, Dan Lee and Derek Sanders

Last season: 11-13 overall

2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Hilliard Bradley (14-0), Thomas Worthington (10-4), Delaware (8-6), Scioto (8-6), Worthington Kilbourne (6-8), Jerome (5-9), Darby (5-9), Olentangy Berlin (0-14)

2020 postseason: Def. Olentangy Orange 45-44; lost to Coffman 50-45 in second round of Division I district tournament

SCIOTO

Coach: Mike Moler, eighth season

Top players: Xavier Lopes and Jaydon Pearson

Key losses: Drew Bryant, Benjamin Lombardo, Jayden Prince and Joe Trent

Last season: 11-12 overall

2020 postseason: Lost to Reynoldsburg 51-41 in first round of Division I district tournament