WHITEHALL, Ohio -- It was only fitting that on Whitehall’s Senior Night, the duo of Roshean Bagley and Taylon Cofer would carry the Rams to a 60-58 victory over Bishop Hartley.
Despite facing a large amount of adversity in the first half and not having their second leading scorer in Payton Collins, the gritty effort from Hartley was not enough to take down the motivated Rams.
The game began with Whitehall playing a physical brand of basketball in the first quarter. It was impossible for anyone on the opposing team to drive into the lane and not get fouled twice by two different players. This set the tone for the Rams though, and clearly made Hartley uncomfortable on the offensive end of the floor.
The Hawks were faced with adversity early in the game as senior star Morgan Safford exited the game a little over halfway through the first quarter with two fouls.
Whitehall jumped out to an early lead because they could easily break down the Hartley defenders off the dribble as Cofer religiously made his way into the lane and made plays for his teammates until Hartley shifted to a zone very late in the first quarter. Whitehall had all the momentum going into the second leading 17-13.
The second quarter was pretty quiet scoring wise for both teams. Even with Safford back for a majority of the quarter, Hartley really struggled to get open looks in the halfcourt. Thankfully, Whitehalls physical play started to catch up to them as the Hawks scored over half their points in the quarter at the free throw line.
The Rams struggled to create offense late in the second quarter when Cofer came out with two fouls with three and a half minutes left in the second. Whitehall still held onto a 27-23 lead going into halftime without their primary on ball creator.
The second half opened up with Safford on a mission, willing his team to a 7-0 run to start the quarter as Whitehall called a timeout down 30-27 with about six minutes left in the quarter.
Despite a dominant third quarter from Hartley’s leading scorer, Whitehall received much needed contributions from Cofer and Bagley in order to keep them in the game, trailing 43-41 at the end of the quarter.
The final quarter was action packed and it looked like Bishop Hartley was going to end up winning the game with Safford willing the Hawks to a win. After another 7-0 run from in the quarter solely of points created from the unsigned senior, Whitehall called a timeout down six with two and half minutes left in the game.
After a Whitehall run, sophomore guard Dorsien Butler hit a three to put the Rams down two with less than a minute left. Then, Bagley ended up sealing the game for the Rams by knocking down two free throws to tie the game and finishing at the rim with six seconds left after creating an extra possession tipping a miss at the rim out and creating the extra opportunity to win the game.
Morgan Safford (6’4 WG / Bishop Hartley / 2019): Safford had a tough game tonight, as his foul troubles made it difficult for him to get comfortable as a scorer within the first half. However, he followed up an inefficient 6 point first half with 18 in the second, totaling a game high 24 points. At 6-foot-4, Safford is an off guard with an elite offensive IQ and even though he works primarily on ball for Bishop Hartley, he has appeal on both ends of the ball at the next level.
Offensively, Safford has an incredibly tight handle at his size and is capable of performing dribble moves with ease in the halfcourt in order to get to his effortlessly quick pull up jumpshot. His handling ability could be utilized off many different low usage actions at the next level where he poses the shot creation level needed to become an ultimate off ball threat when working off DHO’s, curls, pin downs, or flares. He showcased some passing ability as a transition handler, making simple strong side reads along with making decisive weak side reads within the flow of the offense and showcasing his ability to read the floor when getting into the lane and making passes to the weak side corner on spot up drives that require an exceptional feel for the game from a high school player. The unsigned senior also worked well improvising his own ball movement, moving well within Whitehall’s zone and converting on a pair of give and go possessions finishing at the rim.
Defensively, Safford was not frequently tasked with guarding an on ball threat, but should be fine guarding wings at the next level on the ball. Off the ball he made some encouraging strong side rotations and anticipated quite a few steals in the passing lanes by taking away the simple read for the ball handler. It’s an absolute crime that Safford has only one offer from Walsh. He is clearly a mid major talent that can be an ultimate off ball threat as he continues to progress as a shooter along with his passing ability when working off specific actions or attacking on spot ups. He should develop into a plus team defender as well. Division II schools should be knocking down his door to get to him, and mid majors looking to develop their offense should look into the Hartley senior as well.
Roshean Bagley (6’4 WG / Whitehall / 2019): Bagley is a prospect that embodied team value tonight, as he contributed the most to his teams win by far. At 6-foot-4, the wing can do a little bit of everything on the basketball court and do it all with a high IQ. While the Edison State commit scored a team high 17 points, he made his real impression as a passer on the offensive end of the floor. With a hearty helping of assists, Bagley carved up the Hartley defense as a low usage passer. Many great low usage passers need a specific simple action ran for them in order to make a quick decision, but the senior did not need a single one. He made some great decisive simple reads in the half court on top of flashing a feel for the weak side of the floor. The wing showcased his grab and go equity as well, as he possesses a solid handle and rebounds the ball very well. Once initiating the break he can make any passing read asked of him or finish under the rim. Continuing to build off his handling ability, Bagley changes directions when off the dribble when performing simple dribble moves and has great burst out of his change of directions in order to finish at the rim.
Bagley’s IQ translated on the defensive end of the floor, where he made proper rotations whenever he was asked. I would like to see him continue to improve his reaction time just a tick without insanely fast recovery speed. Edison State is getting a steal in this two-way wing. He clearly sees and process actions a second faster than just about any Juco prospect on the high school level. I’d like to see him continue to improve his shooting ability so he can become more marketable off of specific low usage actions.
Taylon Cofer (5’11 G / Whitehall / 2019): The senior was the unquestioned leader of his team tonight and willed his guys to a win. At 5-foot-11, Cofer does not possess highly marketable size for a lead guard, but makes up for it with his toughness. He excels as a change of pace handler with fantastic burst and top north-south speed. This allows him to get into the lane at will, where he was capable of executing very quick decisions as a passer. Ideally, a coach would want to market this ability with Cofer fitting best in an up tempo system at the next level where he could thrive as a transition playmaker along with being able to finish at the rim better than his size indicates with phenomenal leaping explosion and a budding floater gam.
Defensively, Cofer is a strong point of attack defender that takes pride in his aggressive mentality, where he really applies his lateral speed and quick hips. Sometimes that mentality can hurt him off the ball, but I think he is a capable of becoming net neutral off-ball defender. Cofer is tough to peg since he does have a very developed, mature game on the offensive side of the ball. His jumpshot is rather unorthodox and could be a little hard to feel confident in which is something he will need in order to have his same offensive value at the next level.