Upper Arlington Roundup: Quinn Corna setting tone for boys basketball team

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Quinn Corna, a junior guard and Upper Arlington's most experienced player, has embraced his leadership role. “I think I was a little selfish at times last year and I think I’ve grown up from that,” he said. “I’ve matured in the past year so I can step into that role as our main leader.”

As the Upper Arlington boys basketball team’s only returning player with considerable varsity experience, Quinn Corna feels a responsibility to take the Golden Bears on his shoulders and set a tone.

The 6-foot-3 junior guard did just that to start the season Dec. 20, scoring UA’s first eight points and a career-high 29 in a 70-37 rout of Wellington. He scored the team’s first four points two nights later at Pickerington North, when three fouls in the first quarter limited his playing time in a 54-46 overtime loss. In the Bears’ OCC-Central Division opener Dec. 30 at Olentangy Orange, Corna had seven points to open the game.

But even when he was sitting during the loss at North, Corna became one of the team’s biggest cheerleaders and counseled his teammates between stints on the floor.

That’s another way in which he wants to lead a team still learning about itself following a preseason that featured two COVID-19 quarantines totaling 24 days.

“I think I was a little selfish at times last year and I think I’ve grown up from that. I’ve matured in the past year so I can step into that role as our main leader,” Corna said. “We have a big junior class so we definitely have a connection with each other. We’ve been practicing a lot, not able to play as much, and that’s made us closer. Playing different teams, it’s exciting. We can all fill our roles.”

Corna averaged 15.8 points and 5.0 rebounds to start the season for UA, which was 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league before playing Dublin Coffman on Jan. 8.

“He’s growing up. He’s maturing,” coach Tim Casey said. “He’s the one we rely on with his leadership and helping these younger guys along. He’s getting better defensively. When he’s not out there, it hurts us quite a bit. He knows how to manage the game when he’s out there. But he’ll have a great couple years, I think, in front of him.”

Corna burst onto the scene as a sophomore, averaging 13.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists as UA overcame a slow start to finish 14-9 overall and 8-2 in the OCC-Central, tying Coffman and Marysville for the league championship.

Corna scored in double-digits 16 times and had four 20-point games, including 24 in a Division I district tournament first-round loss at Canal Winchester.

Those statistics aside, Corna said he is eager to grow another facet of his game.

“I have to be a defensive player, too. We lost a lot of our best defensive key players and we need a few (guys) to step up,” he said.

Casey added that he has seen progress from Corna on that end of the floor.

“He’s doing a better job of communicating and contributing to our defensive package,” Casey said. “He’s definitely a gifted scorer. He’s quick, he’s shifty, he can get it to the basket and he has a nice mid-range game too. He can shoot it from out on the floor. He’s pretty multidimensional.”

Wrestler DiBenedetto

maintains high goals

A season-opening loss by pin helped Isa DiBenedetto keep her goals in focus as she tries to build on last season’s third-place finish at 116 pounds in the inaugural girls wrestling state tournament.

DiBenedetto, a senior, was pinned by Delaware’s Kelcey Dew – who was third at 121 at state last year – in 3 minutes, 10 seconds during the Bears’ match against the Pacers on Dec. 18 at Hastings Middle School. 

The match was billed as the evening’s “main event” and took place in the middle of the dual, won by UA 38-28.

“I need to keep getting aggressive, (and) maybe take more shots,” DiBenedetto said, admitting some nerves for both the start of the season and facing another state placer. “I didn’t get a lot of offseason competition. I got some practice in, at least, but not as much as I wanted. I want to work on my nerves, of course, and try my best.”

DiBenedetto said she wrestled a handful of matches in Indiana over the summer and is unsure how this season’s schedule will play out, largely because that depends on whether UA’s opponents have female wrestlers.

“Whatever I get (in terms of matches), I’m grateful for,” she said. “I just want to obviously place higher at state, maybe get more competition in and wrestle harder than I did last year. Despite everything that’s been going on, I want to have the best season I can.”

The Golden Bears' Thomas Ray will compete in the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim on Sunday, Jan. 17. The event is a fundraiser for the Navy SEAL Foundation.

Boys swimmers

heading to Frogman

Boys swimmer Thomas Ray said his second consecutive trip to compete in the Tampa Bay Frogman Swim on Sunday, Jan. 17, has nothing to do with improving on last year’s runner-up finish and everything to do with the event’s overall mission.

“I was the top male finisher but really, that was a minor detail,” said Ray, a senior who committed to Old Dominion on Dec. 23. “It was less of a race to me than doing what I can to help raise money for fallen (Navy) SEALS and retired SEALS. It’s an important cause.”

Unlike last year, Ray will swim this weekend with his brother, 2019 UA graduate Reed Ray, and current UA sophomore Patrick Ray.

The Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, a 3.1-mile swim across Tampa Bay that is in its 12th year, is a fundraiser for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which helps surviving spouses and family members of active military who lost their lives in combat.

Ray finished last year’s swim in 1 hour, 3 minutes, second only to Brooke Bennett. Bennett was the 1996 Olympic Games gold medalist in the women’s 800-meter freestyle and won gold in both the 400 and 800 free at the 2000 Olympics – the latter in a then-world-record time of 8:19.67.

As of Jan. 6, the brothers had exceeded their $10,000 fundraising goal by $675.

“Reed went down with me last year but he didn’t swim. He wanted to this year,” Thomas Ray said. “Getting Patrick to do it was pretty easy. We’re all excited.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave