Jayla Coplan has started to come to the forefront in the homestretch of her career with the Grandview Heights High School girls basketball team.

The 5-foot-4 senior forward has taken a more aggressive approach on the court to become a viable scoring threat for the Bobcats, who are 13-8 overall heading into the Division III district tournament.

After averaging just 4.2 points over the first 11 games, Coplan bumped that up to 11.2 points over the next 10 by taking the shot when the opportunity arrives.

"I feel like I was more hesitant at the start of the season," said Coplan, who is averaging 7.5 points for the season. "It was my senior year and I didn't want to mess anything up. Now I'm more comfortable and ready to go."

The surge started with a 10-point effort Jan. 13 during a 38-36 loss to Worthington Christian in MSL-Ohio Division play. She had a career-high 21 points on Jan. 27 in a 56-46 league win over Whitehall.

"I think with Jayla she needed the confidence that she could play with aggression and not really worry about appearing to be selfish," said coach Brian O'Mara, whose team finished 5-5 in the MSL-Ohio. "I have a lot of girls on the team who I want to shoot the ball more. I want them to shoot the ball if they're open, and at the beginning of the year I think (Coplan) was worrying about being too tentative, taking a bad shot or whatever.

"We were being so patient that we were letting teams stick around that we should have put away earlier in the game. Since the second half, Jayla takes every open shot she has, she drives to the basket aggressively, and I couldn't be happier with the way she has been playing."

Coplan also participates in softball in the spring and both volleyball and cheerleading in the fall. She also stays busy with a variety of other activities, including musical theater and yarn club.

"I wanted to try musical (theater), but if I was going to play a part I wouldn't be able to play basketball," said Coplan, who is helping with the school's production of "Shrek." "I'm part of the crew doing hair and makeup. It's my senior season and I didn't want to miss basketball. I do musical every day before going to practice."

Coplan didn't start going to school in Grandview until her freshman year. Before that, she attended Tree of Life.

"People think Grandview is small, but it's so much bigger than Tree of Life," she said. "I went there from pre-(kindergarten) to eighth grade, and the elementary, middle school and high school combined was around 200 students. We didn't have clubs there and we didn't have (events) to bring the team together such as movie nights and sleepovers and things like that. There are so many opportunities that Grandview has given me."

Coplan has a 4.2 weighted GPA and plans to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati to study biological sciences.

"I want to be a surgeon and I'm very excited about that," she said. "When I take anatomy and we cut open cats and fish, I like to see how things are put together and how they function. I went in and watched my first surgery last month. I watched Dr. Robert Turner perform an all-on knee replacement, and it was really cool.

"Ever since I was little I always wanted to do something in the medical field like a marine biologist or a veterinarian, but I figured I should work on people. Animals can't tell me what's wrong with them and give me an idea of what I need to do."

The Bobcats are seeded 11th for the district tournament and open Tuesday, Feb. 20, with a first-round game at ninth-seeded Ready. The teams have not played this season.

The winner plays host to 13th-seeded West Jefferson on Feb. 24.

"(O'Mara) has taught us a lot," Coplan said. "He's the one that always tells us to never lose our head. If you lose your head, you don't play well.

"He also has taught us about the real world. If you're late to practice, he tells us that if you have a job you can't actually be late. He relates everything to what we will be facing later in life."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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