DeSales Roundup: Energetic Obed Achirem sparking Stallions boys basketball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
DeSales senior forward Obed Achirem has provided key contributions this season as a scorer, rebounder and defender. “Every night we play, there aren’t many guys who are more physical and athletic than (Achirem),” coach Pat Murphy said.

DeSales boys basketball coach Pat Murphy struggled to find the right words for senior forward Obed Achirem’s impact on the Stallions beyond the 11.6 points and 8.8 rebounds he averaged through his first nine games this season.

While Achirem’s contributions were not necessarily intangible, Murphy finds some of them hard to quantify within a particular category.

“(Against Watterson on Jan. 20), we put in full-court pressure and he led the pressure and created chaos. It completely changed the game and I don’t know that any stats reflected that,” Murphy said of a game the Stallions won 59-56 in overtime. “Every night we play, there aren’t many guys who are more physical and athletic than (Achirem).”

Despite missing his junior season and the first two games this season because of a broken right hip, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Achirem seems to have picked up where he left off – and, as far as Murphy is concerned, Achirem is even better. A starter for half of his sophomore season who almost exclusively concentrated on defense and was the team’s leading rebounder as a result, Achirem now guards all five positions, often plays on the perimeter and is the leader of a group of forwards and centers that also includes juniors Cruz Sanchez and Atticus Schuler.

“People kind of forgot about Obed. We never forgot about him,” Murphy said. “His energy is tremendous and he’s become much more versatile.”

The Stallions were 9-2 overall and 4-1 in the CCL before playing Ready on Jan. 29.

Achirem led the team in rebounds as a sophomore at more than 5.0 per game but was injured during a football scrimmage the next August. He was not cleared to resume basketball until April of last year, after DeSales won a Division II district championship but saw its season end early because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“I was working on my dribbling, shooting and stamina, getting everything back to normal. I am hitting open shots. I don’t dribble much but my dribbling is better. Every part of my game has improved a lot,” Achirem said. “If they have two defenders on (leading scorer) Des (Watson), I can cut to the basket and make something happen.”

Achirem scored a game-high 22 points in a 54-40 win at Reynoldsburg on Jan. 23, capping a stretch of four games in six days that began with an 11-point, 15-rebound performance in a 58-57 win over perennial Division I power Pickerington Central.

Murphy described him as one of the few Stallions who can go toe-to-toe with Watson, a Davidson recruit who averaged 27.5 points through nine games. Both have 6-5 wingspans.

The 6-6, 180-pound Schuler, who started every game as a sophomore and boasts a 6-9 wingspan, averaged 8.8 points and 3.9 rebounds through nine games. Schuler, who added a career-high 20 points at Reynoldsburg, said he has grown two inches and gained 20 pounds of muscle since the start of last season.

“I’m making more plays with the ball and off the ball, doing whatever I can to help the team win,” Schuler said. “I really wanted to work on my shot and my overall physicality coming into this year, just trying to transform my game to where I can score anywhere on the court. I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress.”

Youth leading

bowling teams

With two freshmen and a sophomore on the roster, the girls bowling team was 4-1 overall, 4-0 in the CCL and 3-0 in the COHSBC-D Division before a Jan. 28 match against Watterson.

Senior and two-time Division I state-qualifier Skyla Blumenscheid had a team-leading 170.0 average, but freshman Mercedes Bassitt was close behind at 163.9. Sophomore Alexis Reynolds averaged 129.4.

“This is the best year we’ve had in a while,” said assistant coach Connie Emlich, who oversees the girls team. “Mercedes has been bowling since she was 6 and she brought (classmate) Cailin (Mascarin) along this year and she’s taken to things right away. I hoped with Skyla there, we’d have some magic there and things would go the way they’ve ended up going. I really thought this could be a good year with girls who are capable of throwing 170, 180 or 200 games.”

Bassitt, who is Emlich’s granddaughter, had the team’s best game of the season entering Jan. 28, having rolled a 210 on Jan. 13 against Worthington Christian at Capri Lanes.

The boys team was 4-2 overall, 3-0 in the COHSBC-D and 3-2 in the CCL before Jan. 28, records that coach Miranda Singer attributed partly to an increased emphasis on picking up spares. Caden Lester averaged 202.9 to lead the Stallions, ahead of Bryan Ritzler (199), Andy Karas (174.9) and Patrick Anderson (172).

“A lot of the younger guys have stepped up,” Singer said. “They’ve gotten more comfortable. They are excited to hang out and bowl in these matches. We had to wait for the season, but we got time to practice spares and work on little things. That has helped everybody.”

Jadyn Arnold and DeSales were 8-5 overall and 1-2 in the CCL before playing Hartley on Jan. 28. The Stallions were wrapping up a stretch of eight games in 11 days.

Girls basketball team

endures tough stretch

The girls basketball team ended a run of eight games in 11 days Jan. 28 against Hartley. DeSales stood at 5-2 in the stretch, which included five Division I opponents – one of whom was state-ranked – and two CCL contests.

The Stallions, who were scheduled to play 19 regular-season games between Dec. 28 and Feb. 11, were 8-5 overall and 1-2 in the CCL before Jan. 28.

Among the highlights of DeSales’ crowded schedule were a 40-39 win at Pickerington North on Jan. 19 in which the Stallions outscored the Panthers 15-4 in the fourth quarter, a 46-25 home league win over Ready on Jan. 21 and a 56-45 loss to visiting and 10th-ranked Watkins Memorial on Jan. 23. The Stallions trailed 20-5 after the first quarter but got within single digits in the fourth, led by 14 points from both Stefanie Karras and Gracie Sabo.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave