UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio -- In a senior night showdown with the league title on the line, Upper Arlington (12-8) overpowered Dublin Coffman (16-6) by a score of 53-41 on Friday night. The Golden Bears used a dominant second half performance to secure the win and share of the league title.
The OCC-Central finished in a three-way tie this season as Upper Arlington, Coffman, and Marysville all finished with a record of 8-2 in league play.
In a night filled with upsets and buzzer beaters, this consistently entertaining season finale did not disappoint one bit. The game was kicked off in exciting fashion as two of the most talented sophomores in the area, Ajay Sheldon of Coffman and Quinn Corna of Upper Arlington, exchanged deep three-point baskets on the first two possessions.
Immediately the entire gym thought we were in for a high scoring battle, but the rest of the first half didn’t follow suit. Upper Arlington struggled to put the ball in the basket, missing the majority of the open looks they got.
Coffman slowly increased their lead through the play of Wofford commit Keaton Turner. Turner got to the rim at will and knocked down a triple in the second quarter that gave the Rocks their largest lead of the night at nine points. Junior Nash Hostetler and Sheldon also played well in the first half, each knocking down two threes of their own.
To end the half, Upper Arlington took the ball out under Coffman’s basket with 0.5 seconds remaining. Sophomore Geoffrey Schoeny found a slashing Max Buckley who caught the ball on the run and threw up a jumper that fell, cutting the Coffman lead to seven at 26-19.
The second half was an entirely different story however, as the Golden Bears came out on fire and outscored Coffman 20-5 in the third quarter. After poor shooting and only two three-point makes in the first half, Upper Arlington made four in the third quarter alone.
The second half run was sparked by Corna, who made two difficult pull ups to begin the third, followed by a Liam Keethler three-pointer that tied the game up at 26. The hot shooting continued as Schoeny and Corna each knocked down triples only before Turner ended the Bears’ run with a three of his own, cutting the deficit to 36-31.
With every effort Coffman made to cut into the lead and make a comeback, Upper Arlington responded with their usual fundamental offense and insanely accurate shooting. The Upper Arlington lead reached ten points on a Keethler and-one 3:36 remaining in the final quarter.
The Golden Bears finished the quarter strong, taking care of the ball and converting enough of their free throws to maintain the lead. With under 30 seconds left they subbed the seniors out for one last home ovation after a well earned victory over a talented Dublin Coffman team.
Upper Arlington’s effort was led by Corna with 17 points and four rebounds on three triples and a 4-for-4 mark from the charity stripe. Keethler added 16 points and eight rebounds in an incredible effort. The senior provided energy and big plays for his squad whenever they needed it, doing exactly what you expect from a senior.
In the losing effort, Turner led all Coffman scorers with 17 points and eight rebounds. Sheldon scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds and had four steals in the loss. As one of the top sophomores in the area, Sheldon played an all around solid game and showed why he has such a high ceiling.
Upper Arlington now enters tournament play winners of three in a row and eight of their last nine. They will travel to Canal Winchester on Saturday the 22nd to square off with the Indians in the sectional semifinals.
For Coffman, they will try to move on from tonight’s loss and look ahead to what could be a successful postseason run. The Rocks start their tournament play when they host Hilliard Davidson on Tuesday the 25th in their sectional semifinal matchup with the Wildcats.