The Olentangy Orange boys basketball team had no problem jumping out to an early lead, but lost it late for the second time in its first three games of the season as visiting Dublin Coffman rallied for a 51-46 OCC-Central Division win Friday night in Lewis Center.
“We played solid on defense in the first half,” Olentangy Orange coach Anthony Calo said. “They just wanted the close balls more than us. We have to take care of the basketball and win the loose ball battle.”
Senior guard Elias Lewis scored the game’s first five points for the Pioneers and his energy on both ends helped Orange jump out to a 17-8 lead after a quarter of play. Junior Mikey McCollum had four points and a steal in the quarter.
With the Shamrocks trailing by nine after the first quarter, senior guard Ajay Sheldon took it upon himself to try and lead a comeback. He hit a three and several tough layups to prevent the game from slipping away for Coffman.
The Shamrocks outscored Orange 11-7 in the second quarter and went into the locker room only down by five.
Orange started slow out of the half, allowing Coffman to go on a 12-0 run. McCollum ended the run, and his defense on Sheldon in the third quarter helped the Pioneers get back into the game after blowing a big lead, but the damage was done.
Senior Jake Werling hit two layups in the quarter to trim the Shamrock lead, but the Pioneers still found themselves down 35-30 going into the fourth quarter.
The hoops accounted for the only four points Werling scored, but they were huge buckets even though the Pioneers ultimately ended up losing.
“It was good to see Jake make some big plays in the third quarter, especially after him being injured all last season,” Calo said. “We just have to be more consistent as a team.”
Sheldon hit what ended up being a dagger three that extended the Coffman lead to nine with just over four minutes left in the game. He finished with 24 points as the Shamrocks held on to win by five.
McCollum ended up with 14 points and Lewis had 11. Senior Eddie Brown contributed seven points. Senior Joel Addo had six points. Orange shot 7-for-13 on free throws.
Next up, Orange will travel to face Hilliard Darby on Tuesday in a non-conference matchup.