Despite an injury to key player Sade Olatoye in December, the Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team remained atop the OCC-Central Division entering the week.
The Shamrocks were 8-4 overall and 6-0 in the league before playing Olentangy Liberty on Jan. 8.
Olatoye, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, suffered a bruised meniscus and hairline fracture to her left knee while setting a screen in a 60-24 win over Thomas Worthington on Dec. 17.
The Shamrocks played their next five games without Olatoye, but she was hoping to return against Liberty.
"It's always tough for a player to sit out and watch your team struggle, but it's a strategy to get back and get healthy for the next game and just help the team," Olatoye said following a 62-26 loss Jan. 4 at Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame Academy.
Coffman was 2-3 without Olatoye, but ahead of Westland and Upper Arlington (both 5-1) in the OCC-Central entering the week.
The Shamrocks play host to UA on Friday, Jan. 10. They defeated the Golden Bears 42-32 on Nov. 29 at UA.
"We've talked all year about getting to January with the opportunity to be in a position to win our league," coach Bryan Patton said. "We feel good about our group, but we know that it won't be easy. We have some tough league games coming up and the second time through is always very challenging."
The Shamrocks remained alone in first place thanks to a 52-48 win over visiting Westland on Jan. 3. Kamerine Taylor led with 16 points and Griffin Tullis and Christine Szabo each scored 14.
"It was a very hard-fought game," Patton said. "They are a physical team and really have gotten better. They have two very good guards (Tanesha Dixon and Christina Simpson) and their girls play hard. I was proud of how our girls played down the stretch in the fourth quarter."
Simpson scored 20 points.
Patton was disappointed with the Shamrocks' effort at Mount Notre Dame Academy.
"We got destroyed," he said. "We played a really good team and really didn't play with a lot of energy or enthusiasm. They came out and they were very aggressive. We got down 19-2 and were (overwhelmed) from that point."
Scioto earns first victory
Scioto defeated host Hilliard Darby 42-35 on Jan. 3 for its first win under first-year coach Jen Clark. The Irish were 1-9 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Hilliard Bradley on Jan. 7.
"For all the kids and the staff, it's nice to have that monkey off your back now," Clark said. "I felt going into it we were going to win, but to finally get one, that will help create some momentum coming down the second half of the league."
Scioto outscored the Panthers 17-4 in the third quarter to build a 34-19 lead. Brianna Bell scored 16 points, Abbie Moore had 13 and McKenzie Lomax added 10.
"Each game we've been getting better and we've been close three out of four quarters, so it was nice to put a complete game together," Clark said. "They could definitely see the hard working paying off."
Jerome defeats Canal Winchester
Jerome climbed over .500 for the first time this season by defeating host Canal Winchester 48-41 on Jan. 3.
The Celtics were 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Westerville South on Jan. 8.
"We're a little behind everybody in games played," coach Rob Dunsmore said. "We had a really long layoff during (the holiday break). We had 13 days off between games. We've done a lot of practicing and not much playing and that's tough on kids because they all like to play in those games."
Jerome's game Jan. 6 at Fairfield Union was postponed because of bad weather.
Against Canal Winchester, the Celtics trailed 23-22 at halftime but outscored the Indians 13-5 in the third quarter.
Hadley Kiefer scored 19 points and Madison Watson added 17, and Jerome made 14 of 15 free-throw attempts.
"The kids are working very hard and we're just trying to get better every day like everybody else," Dunsmore said.