Boys Basketball: Dublin Coffman Shamrocks ‘starting to click’ with postseason set to begin

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Coffman's Nash Hostetler drives against Hilliard Davidson's Jayden Nervis earlier this season. Hostetler, a senior, has combined with junior Ajay Sheldon to form one of the area's top backcourts. Sheldon was averaging 23.6 points and 5.0 assists through 16 games, and Hostetler was averaging 14 points and 6.5 rebounds.

Even though his team won’t get in its full allotment of 22 regular-season games, senior Nash Hostetler used the word “hectic” to describe what the season has been like for the Dublin Coffman boys basketball team.  

Like nearly every other team in the OCC, the Shamrocks had the beginning of their season delayed until at least mid-December, and Coffman’s season didn’t start until Dec. 28.  

Since that time, Coffman has played two to three games every week while battling through a deeper slate of OCC-Central Division opponents than a season ago.  

While Coffman earned the ninth seed for the Division I district tournament, three other OCC-Central teams also were seeded in the top 12.  

The season’s tight window may have put the Shamrocks in an unusual position, but Hostetler doesn’t believe it has them at a disadvantage as they look for a more successful postseason than last season when they lost in a district semifinal.  

“The positive thing is we’ve all gotten to play a lot together, and coach does a great job of getting a lot of workouts in,” Hostetler said. “It’s starting to click with us that things are coming together.”  

After being a part-time contributor as a sophomore when Coffman went 22-2 and received the top seed in the district, Hostetler averaged 14.5 points last season as the Shamrocks went 18-7.  

This winter, the 6-foot-3 wing player was averaging 14 points and a team-best 6.5 rebounds while helping Coffman improve to 11-5 overall and 5-4 in the OCC-Central Division by beating Upper Arlington 64-62 on Feb. 12.  

Hostetler has been receiving looks from NAIA programs, such as Rio Grande, as well as Division II schools.  

“Part of it is me being a senior, and I have a lot more experience than a lot of the other players on the team,” Hostetler said. “I know the way defense works better. (Our coaches have done) a really good job of developing my ball skills and helping me be confident in my skills. Last year I wasn’t confident in my ability to dribble and see the floor and this year I’ve become more of a threat than just a 3-point shooter. That’s been the biggest step I’ve made personally.”  

Coffman’s one-two punch of junior point guard Ajay Sheldon and Hostetler is among the best in central Ohio.  

After 2020 graduate Keaton Turner averaged 22 points last season and is playing for Wofford, Sheldon was averaging 23.6 points, 2.6 steals and five assists through 16 games.   

According to coach Jamey Collins, the program record for points per game is 22.5.  

“I’ve been really happy with Nash,” Collins said. “He’s been really focused on being consistent night in, night out. We’re definitely not big, but if we defend the right way, we can make up for that lack of size.  

“Ajay is putting up unreal numbers. He’s getting guarded harder than anybody has.”  

Coffman opens the district tournament Feb. 26 at home against 29th-seeded Olentangy Berlin or 31st-seeded Hilliard Darby in a second-round game.  

With a win, the Shamrocks will play host to 10th-seeded Reynoldsburg, 27th-seeded Watkins Memorial or 30th-seeded Dublin Jerome on March 3 in a district semifinal.  

Top-seeded Gahanna is among the potential opponents if Coffman reaches a district final March 6, with the game being held on the home court of the higher seed.  

The Shamrocks beat Darby 55-43 on Dec. 30 and Reynoldsburg 66-61 on Jan. 5.  

“We knew coming in with this group in June that we were going to win some games but that we’d lose some, and we needed to be learning from the ones we didn’t win,” Collins said. “The thing we’ve been striving for really all year is just consistency, game by game.  

“We knew it was going to be a challenge and it has been a challenge. I think we have a really high ceiling when we’re at our best. … We have some guys who have improved a lot in the last week or two.”  

julrey@thisweeknews.com  

@UlreyThisWeek