The Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team's run to a Division I regional final last year showed its coaches and players that the difference between the elite programs in Ohio is minuscule.

The Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team's run to a Division I regional final last year showed its coaches and players that the difference between the elite programs in Ohio is minuscule.

It's not necessarily who has the top player or even the best starting five. It's often about players six through 10.

"(West Chester Lakota West) absolutely had more depth than us last year," said coach Mary Ann Grimes, whose team lost to Lakota West 62-48 in the regional final. "It's something we've been working on. We're looking for a strong nine to 10, not just bodies but players that can give us good, quality minutes. It's going to be important for us."

It's still early, but the Shamrocks appear to be deeper than they were last season. They played 12 players extensively in opening with four consecutive OCC-Central Division routs. In fact, 11 players scored in blowout victories over Thomas Worthington (77-29 last Friday) and Westland (79-25 on Dec. 12).

Because of illnesses and injuries, Coffman also was able to starts and extensive minutes to some players who will be counted on to be key contributors off the bench later in the season.

"I definitely think we're deeper this year," said Alex Blair, who had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench against Thomas. "We have a lot of people contributing and helping us right now."

Coffman is working on its depth every day in practice. In five-on-five drills, rarely do the same five get teamed together. Scrimmages against boys also are helping.

Blair, a 6-foot-1 center, got the start against Westland when starter Andi Baylin was out with a concussion and responded with 13 points. She averaged nine points in the first four games.

But there are others who can help down low. Meredith Stranges, a 6-0 sophomore, had six points against Thomas, and classmate Lindsay Zitzke, a 5-10 forward, scored in each of the first four games.

Zitzke scored eight points against the Cardinals with three of the field goals coming in a span of just more than two minutes in the second quarter. She scored on layup, grabbed a loose ball under the basket and put it back and then made abaseline jumper.

"Lindsay played very well," Grimes said. "She's had some really good practices and it is carrying over."

On the perimeter, junior Kirby Deming and sophomores Sarah McQuade have seen regular minutes, and junior Antoinette Pusateri and sophomore Stacy Axner have helped as well. Against Thomas, Deming got her first start and turned in a strong defensive effort. She scored seven points against Westland.

"We mix it up in practice so it is never the same players going against each other and that helps us," Blair said. "We get the intensity up in practice so we're always ready for the games."

The Thomas game was the start of abusy stretch, withsix games in 15 days. Included is a holiday tournament Saturday and Sunday at Lakota West.

"We've got a lot of games coming up so it is important that everyone is getting minutes," Grimes said. "But I have been telling them the key is what you do with those minutes."

In semifinals Saturday, the Shamrocks will play Cincinnati Western Hills and Toledo Central Catholic faces the host school.

Central Catholic and Lakota West reached the state tournament last year, and Western Hills lost in the district tournament to eventual state champion Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 43-36. Western Hills has two Division I college signees in Phylehsa Bullard (Syracuse) and Taylor Ware (Evansville). Lakota West is led by Alexis Rogers, who is heading to Duke.

"It's going to be a great tournament," Grimes said.

"I'm looking forward to it. We've got some really great games coming up."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule of the Coffman boys and girls basketball teams:

BOYS

*Last Friday -- Defeated Thomas Worthington 69-48. Michael Green scored 26 points and Connor Viers had 19

*Last Tuesday -- Played Hilliard Darby

Of note: The Samrocks were 4-1 overall and3-0 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Last Friday -- Def. Thomas 77-29.Becca Bornhorst scored 18 points and Alex Blair had 14. Sam MacKay had 10 assists.

Last Sunday -- Def. Toledo Waite 68-51.MacKay had 21 points and Bornhorst added 18.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Hilliard Darby

Saturday -- At West Chester Lakota West vs. Cincinnati Walnut Hills. The Eagles return three starters from a team that lost to eventual Division I state champion Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 43-36 in a district final last year.

Sunday -- At Lakota West vs. Toledo Central Catholic orLakota West. Both reached the state tournament last year. Lakota West eliminated Coffman 62-48 in a regional final.

Of note: The Shamrocks were 4-0 overall before last Sundayand 3-0 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central game