Members of the Dublin Coffman High School boys basketball team heard it regularly from coach Jamey Collins in the days leading up to the regular-season finale against Upper Arlington - the game can be the start of a new season.

Members of the Dublin Coffman High School boys basketball team heard it regularly from coach Jamey Collins in the days leading up to the regular-season finale against Upper Arlington - the game can be the start of a new season.

After rallying for a 51-49 win over the OCC-Central Division champion Golden Bears on Feb. 17 to improve to 12-8, the Shamrocks are indeed hoping the victory serves as a springboard to the Division I district tournament.

Coffman faces Hilliard Bradley in the first round of the tournament at 7:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Reynoldsburg.

"We've had a rocky season at times, but we know this can be the start of a new one," said junior forward Jason Hall, who had 13 points and eight rebounds against UA, which had beaten the Shamrocks 68-58 on Jan. 13. "Our defense has really picked up and, if we keep doing that, we can make a run."

Coffman will take a two-game winning streak into its meeting with Bradley. The Jaguars enter the postseason 9-11 but have won their last four games and nine of their last 13 after losing their first seven.

The Shamrocks have not played Bradley this season. The Jaguars are led by senior forward Trent Weaver, who had 17 points and 20 rebounds in a 53-47 win over Dublin Scioto on Feb. 14 and 24 points and 18 rebounds in a 63-48 win over Watkins Memorial on Feb. 17.

The Coffman-Bradley winner will play 11th-seeded Gahanna or Lancaster in the second round at 7:45 p.m. March 2 at Reynoldsburg.

The Shamrocks have not played Gahanna or Lancaster this season.

"You always want to be playing your best going into the tournament and hopefully we are," Collins said. "I've been happy with the guys in practice. They're focused. They're trying to execute better."

Against UA, Coffman looked as focused as it has been since opening the season 7-1. Injuries to four regular players at different times prevented the Shamrocks from developing continuity, but they finally looked sharp as they rallied in the second half against the Bears, who are the district's seventh seed.

The Shamrocks trailed 36-26 with 5 minutes, 7 seconds left in the third quarter, but they tightened on defense the rest of the way and cut their deficit to 40-33 heading into the fourth.

Coffman outscored UA 18-9 in the fourth quarter, making six of nine shots from the field and five of six free throws. Junior forward Hayden Dygert scored two baskets on give-and-go passes from junior guard Tyrel Jackson and Hall. The second one, on an over-the-top pass from Hall, came with 34 seconds to play and put the Shamrocks up for good.

"I thought our execution on the offensive end was so much better in the second half," Collins said. "Hayden did a good job of setting picks and running to the rim and we found him."

Senior guard Brad Schulze made four free throws in the final 13.7 seconds and finished with a team-high 21 points.

"It's something you dream about," Schulze said of his late-game free throws. "I tried to zone everything out. I've never been in that situation. I didn't want to lose on senior night.

"This can help us. We beat (Worthington) Kilbourne (56-51 on Feb. 10) and beat UA at home. Our confidence is really soaring right now. We're finally on the same page. Hopefully we can make a run out of it."

Coffman finished 9-5 in the OCC-Central to place second, behind UA (12-2) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (9-5), Kilbourne (8-6), Westland (8-6), Hilliard Davidson (7-7), Hilliard Darby (3-11) and Central Crossing (0-14).

•The girls team opened the Division I district tournament with a 63-26 win over Marysville on Feb. 16 at Davidson to improve to 19-2.

Fourteen players scored for the fifth-seeded Shamrocks, led by freshman guard Kamerine Taylor and freshman center Sade Olatoye with 10 points apiece.

Coffman played Watkins Memorial in the second round on Feb. 21 at Davidson. The winner plays sixth-seeded Gahanna or Olentangy Liberty in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. March 1 at Davidson.

The Shamrocks, who won district titles in 2008 and 2009, have not played Gahanna or Liberty this season.