PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Despite severe trouble to nearly its entire starting five and a monster game from Pickerington North (8-2) sophomore Jack Sawyer, Dublin Coffman (10-0) and its stud backcourt survived on the road by taking down the Panthers, 72-66.
While Sawyer was basically unguardable for the entire game, Coffman persevered as a breakout game from junior sixth man Keaton Turner gave the Rocks the boost it needed to overcome a talented Pickerington North squad.
Relying heavily on the three ball, Coffman led early, opening up a 13-6 lead in the first four minutes of the game. North struck back with a 7-0 run in the next three minutes, tying the game at 13 with 45 seconds to go in the opening frame.
This was where Turner was just getting started as he and junior guard Dominiq Penn turned two steals into four quick points, as Coffman led 17-13 after the first quarter.
Going on a 9-0 run, Turner provided seven of those points as the Rocks led as much as nine in the first half. Leading 23-14, it looked as if the Rocks might break open the game.
However, four of Coffman's starters picked up two fouls before the half, which changed the rest of the second quarter.
Sawyer and his untouchable turnaround jumper powered the Panthers to end the half, as the 6-foot-6 sophomore's jumper at the buzzer sent Tuesday's big-time non-conference matchup into the break tied at 30.
In the opening stages of the second half, Coffman came out the gates hot, going on a 10-4 run in the first four minutes of the period. Once again however, foul trouble came back to bite the Rocks, as senior stud Luke Bartemes, who knocked down four of Coffman's nine threes on Tuesday, picked up a critical third foul on yet another Sawyer turnaround jumper.
When it seemed as if North was primed to make a run, Coffman's cast of shooters responded, as a 5-0 run extended the lead to 47-36 with 2:35 to go in the third.
North was not phased though, as a big three from junior Hunter Shedenhelm sparked a 7-1 run to end the third quarter with the Panthers going into the final frame trailing 48-43.
Opening the fourth with another unstoppable turnaround jumper from Sawyer, North cut the lead to 48-45.
In his best game yet in his career, Turner delivered moments later, as a strong crossover and drive to the rim resulted in a three-point play from the junior, putting Coffman back up 53-45 with 6:44 remaining.
After Sawyer responded with yet another fadeaway jumper, Turner struck back, extending the Rocks lead to double digits at 57-47 with 5:02 to play on another impressive dribble move and finish at the bucket.
North responded with a 6-0 run over the next minute, as Sawyer's final turnaround jumper of the game cut the lead to 57-53 with 3:27 to go.
When it wasn't Turner, it was Penn, as the junior connected on a pull up three, extending the Rocks' lead to 60-53 with 3:04 remaining.
From that point forward, Coffman held off a young but hungry Panthers squad in the final three minutes. Not allowing North to get any closer than five points, Coffman finished the game at the free-throw line, improving to 10-0 with a tough road win and by far its top challenge of the season.
Balanced scoring was the name of the game for the Rocks, as five players scored at least eight points led by 16 from Penn. Being held to a season-low two points at halftime, Penn woke up in the second half, staying out of foul trouble the rest of the way. The 6-foot guard is one of the very best creators off the dribble, as he got into the lane whenever he wanted, while also connecting on a few key jump shots.
Bartemes added 14 points on four triples, as he was tasked with a difficult two-way matchup with Sawyer. The Lincoln Memorial signee has an elite ability to stretch the floor, which opens up driving lanes for Coffman's talented guards.
The sixth man Turner added 12 points, giving the Rocks a balanced showing, adding three assists, two blocks and two steals. Outside of its trio, senior guard Will Hunter pitched in nine points, five rebounds and three assists, while senior guard Grant Yeater added eight points.
Battling adversity with 80 percent of its starting lineup in foul trouble in the first half, Coffman put together a gritty performance to close out a great opponent on the road.
For North, Sawyer was the star with 22 points and eight rebounds to lead the Panthers. The 6-foot-6 sophomore showed off an unstoppable turnaround game, while putting some of Coffman's top defenders into foul trouble.
In a strong second half performance, sophomore guard Idris Lawrence added 16 points, 14 of which after the break. Lawrence is a downhill guard with a ton of heart, toughness and strength. Junior guard Chris Scott added 12 points and four rebounds, while Shedenhelm pitched in 11 points on two impressive triples.
Outside of its four scorers in double figures, the rest of North's rotation combined for five points. While Coffman's foul trouble kept North in the game, the Panthers couldn't put together the type of run to take control of Tuesday's game.
With the win, Coffman moves on to a rivalry game on Friday, as it will head to Upper Arlington, who lost its second game of year to Olentangy on Tuesday.
For North, the Panthers will look to bounce back at Grove City on Friday.
Keaton Turner (6'0 PG / Dublin Coffman / 2020): Tuesday was by far the breakout game of Turner's career, as the 6-foot guard was the x-factor in the game. Going for 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals, Turner did it on both ends of the floor. It's hard for us to imagine another guard in the area better than Turner that comes off the bench, as the guard has a game very similar to that of Penn's. A talented ball handler who plays with great pace and can change speed and direction as well as accelerate and decelerate on a dime, Turner was tough to stay in front of for North's backcourt. Getting to the lane whenever he wanted, Turner used every inch of his body to stretch out and finish at the rim. While Penn is more explosive and a better shooter from deep, Turner is not far behind as an offensive creator who can really handle the ball. The junior can pass while on the move, rebounds well for his size, plays defense with passion and can play within a Coffman offense that thrives on ball movement.
Jack Sawyer (6'6 WF / Pickerington North / 2021): With each new viewing of Sawyer, we become more and more impressed. The 6-foot-6 sophomore wrecking ball is the most polished sophomore and quite frankly the best player in his class, as he dominated Coffman from the low post. Backing down the Rocks' defenders and shooting over them with an assortment of turnaround and fadeaway jumpers, Sawyer looked as if he was doing drill work for most of Tuesday's game. Playing an efficient game and shooting a high percentage from the floor, Sawyer showed why he is more than likely a top five player in the area right now regardless of class, as Coffman had no matchup for him. Sawyer has the best turnaround shooting game that we've seen since Northland legend Seth Towns. We would have liked to see North get him more involved in the final three and a half minutes, however, Sawyer's showing on Tuesday was just another impressive notch in what will be a legendary high school athletic career.
Dominiq Penn (6'0 PG / Dublin Coffman / 2020): While foul trouble plagued Penn's first half, the 6-foot guard struck back in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 16 points after halftime. Penn is an elite ball handler who can get anywhere he wants off two dribbles, as he was a dominant matchup at times on the perimeter in the second half. The junior can absolutely stroke it from anywhere on the floor, as he knocked down a few mid-range jumpers to go along with an important three off the dribble in the fourth quarter that opened the lead to six points. With elite level quickness in space, impressive athleticism, an elite handle and knockdown shooting ability, Penn is without question the most talented scoring point guard in the area. Penn scored his first two points of the game by taking a steal and throwing it down on the other end, something he was not doing in games a year ago. We are excited to see what advancements Penn makes within the next year, as he has all the offensive tools that teams are coveting more and more from lead guards.
Idris Lawrence (5'11 PG/CG / Pickerington North / 2021): Missing his entire freshman year due to eligibility issues after transferring from Pickerington Central to North, Lawrence has been a stud to begin his first season on the varsity level. A physical ball handler who plays with great toughness and confidence, Lawrence had a second half much like Penn's, as he scored 14 of his 16 after halftime. Lawrence is a talented ball handler who can change direction with an assortment of dribble moves, as he got to the rim at will in spurts on Tuesday. Knocking down a three to end the game, Lawrence showed promise in that area, as he will need to become a consistent shooter to really open up his offensive game. The son of a former Brookhaven standout, Lawrence plays with a City League type style, as he is a gritty downhill guard with a big motor.
Luke Bartemes (6'4 WF / Dublin Coffman / 2019): A rising senior who has improved as much as anyone in the last year, Bartemes, a Lincoln Memorial signee, had a solid showing despite fouling out with a few minutes left in the game. The 6-foot-4 forward knocked down four threes, showing incredible range and deep shooting ability. Putting on muscle and getting into great shape over the offseason, Bartemes' commitment to the weight room has changed everything for him, as he is now quick and athletic enough to guard wings on the perimeter, while having the strength to hold his own against the biggest of posts on the block. While Sawyer had his way on Tuesday (it's going to be like that no matter who he is facing), Bartemes stood his ground and had several good contests on an elite turnaround shooter. Bartemes will be the key to the Rocks' offense, as he has back-breaking shooting ability that opens up everything for Coffman.
Hunter Shedenhelm (6'4 WG / Pickerington North / 2020): In a great matchup against Coffman's Derek Van Vlerah, Shedenhelm had the advantage when Van Vlerah was off the floor, scoring 11 points and adding five rebounds. Knocking down two threes and being fouled on another, Shedenhelm took advantage of every opportunity he had on Tuesday. The junior is a versatile scorer with elite long range shooting ability, which opens up his off the bounce offense, as he has really improved in that area. Shedenhelm is lethal off movement, as he squares himself up and gets shots off with a quick trigger, which makes him really tough to defend off the ball for most high school defenders. Improving as a defender, Shedenhelm blocked two shots at the rim on one-on-one defense, playing a terrific two-way game despite limited usage. The 6-foot-4 junior went off for a career-high 33 points a few weeks back, as he has the potential to do that each time out.
Derek Van Vlerah (6'6 WG / Dublin Coffman / 2019): On paper, Van Vlerah's night doesn't look like a lot - seven points, four rebounds, two assists. However, the 6-foot-6 senior was incredible on the defensive end of the floor, hawking Shedenhelm for 32 minutes, not allowing the junior wing to score until foul trouble put him on the bench. A special athlete with elite-level speed and explosiveness in the open floor, Van Vlerah's highlights may come on that end, however it is his lockdown perimeter defense that is the best part to his game. The senior can stay in front of anyone, but is really, really good off the ball, running shooters like Shedenhelm off the three-point line and making it difficult to even get normal shot attempts off. As Van Vlerah adds weight to his wiry frame, look for this special athlete to get even freakier, as he can be molded into just about any role that a college program needs him for at the next level - but it will be his lockdown defense that helps him see the floor early.