Bruce Hooley
Bruce Hooley

Bruce Hooley was sports editor of the Troy Daily News from 1983-86 and has covered Ohio State athletics for more than 25 years. Bruce was the OSU beat reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland from 1987-2005.  From 2005-2011 he hosted the afternoon show on  ESPN radio 1460 AM,  in Columbus, before taking on a similar ESPN talk position with WKNR, 850 AM, in Cleveland.  Most recently Hooley has served as the beat reporter for Ohio State football and basketball for Sports Illustrated.com.  The author of "That's Why I'm Here:  The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story, he returns for his second chapter as Buckeye beat reporter and columnist at large with Press Pros.

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In a season already long on  frustrating finishes, Dublin Coffman had hopes its fortunes would turn on Senior Night, only to suffer a fate more cruel than any that occurred previously.

Dublin, OH – Hilliard Davidson senior Ryan Paris missed his team’s first game with Dublin Coffman in mid-December because he’d been on the receiving end of a concussion.

In the rematch Saturday night, he was on the giving end of a kick in the gut.

Trailing, 50-49, with 1.3 seconds remaining, Paris took a pass from a sideline inbounds play that originated deep in the backcourt, caught it over his shoulder in front of his bench, turned and launched a game-winning three-pointer.

The shot disturbed only nylon…and a spirited home crowd at Rock Arena, hoping to celebrate a Senior Night upset of Davidson and keep hope alive for an Ohio Capital Conference Central title in a division where six teams began the night packed within two games.

Instead, they left crushed by another last-second defeat, 52-50, the third time in Coffman’s last four games it’s lost because either a shot fell or didn’t fall counter to the Shamrocks’ preferences in the final seconds.

“He made a tough shot,” Coffman coach Jamey Collins said of Paris. “They made quite a few in the fourth quarter. They made the last play, unfortunately. We haven’t made enough last plays this year. That’s just how it’s been so far.”

Coffman seemed well-positioned for the surprise win when senior Ajay Sheldon escaped the heavy pressure Davidson unleashed on him throughout to score inside and add an accompanying free throw with 3:03 left.

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That bumped the Shamrocks’ lead to 48-42, matching its largest margin of the night, but Paris scored in the lane on Davidson’s next trip and then foreshadowed the finish with a three-pointer at 2:21.

Teammate Cole Carter’s steal at midcourt set up that triple, which robbed Coffman of the chance to run valuable clock and rebuild the margin Paris had just reduced to 48-44.

“Once we got the steal in transition, I immediately ran to the three-point line and just let it fly,” Paris said. “When that one went in, it helped me get my rhythm.”

Mason Maggs (10) battled effectively against Davidson’s size advantage inside.

Both teams came up empty over the next two minutes, leaving Coffman in front, 48-47.

Davidson, guilty of only four team fouls to that point, finally went over the limit with 36.6 seconds to play, sending Ryan Lynn to the line for the one-and-one.

He made both, which gave Coffman a chance to kill clock as Davidson tried to draw even.

The Rocks denied a tying three-point attempt by committing their fourth and fifth team fouls, taking the clock down to 10.4 seconds before Davidson inbounded and surprisingly went for a quick two in the lane from Jayden Nervis.

His basket at 4.9 cut the Coffman lead to 50-49, after which Davidson fouled Aiden Schmidt in the backcourt with 3.6 seconds to play.

His first free throw rode off the back iron to Davidson, and Coffman quickly used another foul to take the clock down to 1.3 seconds.

“I knew we had to get it off, so I just tried to get open,” Paris said. “I knew it had a chance when I released it. To watch it go through, that was a good feeling.”

Be there when the cannon blasts to celebrate a Columbus Blue Jackets goal amid all the exciting National Hockey League action at Nationwide Arena.

Davidson (12-6, 5-3) needed the win to stay well-positioned in the congested OCC Central, where Upper Arlington is 4-3 in the division and Olentangy Liberty is 5-2. Coffman (7-9, 3-5) would have been right in the thick of it had Paris’ shot not fallen.

“You have to give a ton of credit to Dublin Coffman,” Davidson coach Tim Congrove said. “I don’t know that we deserved to win that game, quite honestly. We were just the last one to make a shot.”

Davidson’s Dan Neidert gets the block on Coffman’s Nate Sommerfeld.

Sheldon scored 11 of his 18 in the first quarter to get the Shamrocks in front, and they held a 29-25 edge at the half even though he managed only two points in the second quarter.

Paris and Nervis took turns hounding the 6-1 Sheldon, an Ohio University commit, and Nervis took over offensively once the third quarter resumed.

He scored Davidson’s first eight points of the half en route to a game-high 20.

“A lot of things weren’t going our way in the first half, but we were able to turn that around,” Nervis said. “We know those first four minutes of the third quarter are really important.”

Paris’ ended the third-quarter with a three-pointer that built a 42-38 edge, but Nate Sommerfield, Mason Maggs and Ryan Lynn took advantage of the Wildcats’ preoccupation with Sheldon to shoot Coffman back in front by the midpoint of the final period.

Sheldon’s three-point play at 3:03 built the lead to six, setting the stage for Davidson’s winning comeback and Paris’ game-winner, which completed a 16-point night.

“Our kids executed well at the end,” Congrove said. “Ryan got down the floor and knocked down the shot. As much as we didn’t execute all night, we did a good job there at the end when it mattered most.”

Bruce Hooley hosts the We Tackle Life podcast on iTunes and GooglePlay.

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