When the Dublin Coffman High School boys basketball team was hit by injuries last season, coach Jamey Collins turned to his depth to help fill the void.
In stepped then-junior Hayden Dygert, who emerged as the team's starting post player toward the end of the season and has remained in that role since.
Those injuries last season included losing Dygert for three games with a concussion, but he has since returned to full health and has helped the Shamrocks contend for an OCC-Central Division title.
"He didn't get a lot of time until after he came back from the concussion," Collins said. "It just clicked. He just relaxed and played. He meshed with our guys last year really well and he was a nice little piece to the puzzle. We started playing really well, too."
Through 14 games, Dygert was averaging 6.6 rebounds, second on the team behind senior forward Jason Hall (7.9).
Dygert also was averaging 6.9 points, and he was shooting 52.9 percent from the field (46-for-87).
"Hayden is just an unbelievable kid," Collins said. "Whatever you ask, (he answers) 'yes sir, no sir.' He's always going to give you effort. He is a Dublin Coffman basketball player through and through."
Collins said Dygert does the little things that help Coffman win, and he embraces that role.
"I enjoy being physical and pushing people around," Dygert said. "I like creating for other players and helping them get the points because as long as we win that's all that matters."
Dygert and his teammates are hoping for a deeper postseason run after losing to Gahanna 61-49 in the second round of the Division I district tournament last season.
"A great tournament run would be a perfect ending for me," Dygert said. "Last season ended a lot sooner than we wanted it to, but we're going to try to correct that this year. Last season motivated us, especially in the offseason workouts."
Hall was leading Coffman in scoring at 14 points per game. Senior forward Kevin Marsh was averaging 10.6 points and junior guard Nate Axelrod was at 10.4.
Axelrod, a transfer from Dublin Jerome, established a Coffman program record for consecutive free throws made (26) during a 61-49 win over Marysville on Jan. 25.
Brad Schulze, a 2012 graduate, had the previous record of 24, which he set last season.
The Shamrocks were 8-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Thomas Worthington on Jan. 29. They also play host to Central Crossing on Friday, Feb. 1.
Olentangy Liberty was 7-1 and Westland was 7-2 in the league before Jan. 29.
Coffman visits Westland on Tuesday, Feb. 5, and plays host to Liberty on Feb. 8. The Shamrocks defeated the Cougars 70-64 on Jan. 4 and lost to the Patriots 60-51 on Jan. 8.
Girls squad eyes league title
The girls team also is in contention for an OCC-Central title, as it was tied with Hilliard Davidson for first at 9-1 before playing Thomas on Jan. 29.
The Shamrocks defeated host Marysville 54-44 in a league game Jan. 25, as forward/center Sade Olatoye scored six of her game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter. Guards Kamerine Taylor and Quynh Vo each scored 11 points, and forward Griffin Tullis scored 10.
"The week went well," said coach Bryan Patton, whose team also defeated Dublin Jerome 48-36 in a non-league game Jan. 22. "We played two road games against teams that played very hard and as well as they could probably play, especially Marysville. Our girls showed good poise and toughness and figured out ways to make plays in the second half of both games."
Taylor played in 13 of Coffman's first 16 games and was averaging a team-best 10.7 points. Olatoye was averaging 10.3 points, followed by Tullis (8.8) and Vo (8.7).