The Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team's season of firsts a year ago -- first Division I district championship, first appearance in the regional and first time atop the state poll -- certainly put a bull's-eye on its back.

The Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team's season of firsts a year ago -- first Division I district championship, first appearance in the regional and first time atop the state poll -- certainly put a bull's-eye on its back.

But, more importantly, last season did something else. It provided incentive for everyone in the program.

"Last year gave us a taste of what the excitement is like when you play in the regional," said senior forward Becca Bornhorst, one of three returning starters from a team that won the OCC-Buckeye Division at 10-0 and finished 25-1 overall after losing to West Chester Lakota West 62-48 in a regional final. "It was a great feeling to play on the court at Otterbein (in the regional) and to be in front of all of those fans. It gives us that extra drive that we are going to need for this year."

The Shamrocks have goals that include another regional appearance. Eleven players who saw playing time return. Last season featured a third consecutive OCC-Buckeye title, and the postseason included a 59-49 victory over Hilliard Davidson in a district final and a 61-43 victory over Pickerington North in a regional semifinal.

"Last year had a lot of firsts," coach Mary Ann Grimes said. "We talked about it the first day of practice. We said it was great, but that it was over and we're going to have a target on us from day one this year. We know we're going to have to work hard to make ourselves a little better to win games every day."

Four players were lost to graduation, including starters Kaitlyn Nelson and Lauren Cassel.

Nelson, a center, averaged 8.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and a team-best 2.6 blocks and was second-team all-league. She is playing for Division II Findlay University. Cassel averaged 3.8 points and was the team's top defensive player on the perimeter. She was honorable mention all-league.

The starters back are the heart of the team.

Along with Bornhorst, they are senior point guard Sam MacKay and junior forward Andi Baylin. They were the top three scorers a year ago for the Shamrocks.

MacKay, a 5-foot-8 point guard who has signed with Dayton, averaged 10 points, 7.8 assists and 3.2 steals and was first-team all-league, second-team all-district and honorable mention all-state.

She is the program record-holder for assists in a game (13), season (196) and career (320) and steals for a season (79) and career (140).

Bornhorst, a 6-1 forward who has signed with Butler, averaged 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds and shot 53.5 percent from the floor. She was first-team all-league and third-team all-district.

Baylin,a 6-foot forward, averaged 12.1 points and three rebounds and was second-team all-league.

"We're off to a good start because of our experience," Grimes said. "We still have to work hard every day, but our experience back has already paid off because of where we have been able to start things up this year."

The rest of the returnees are seniors Carly Weisenbach (6-3 center) and Amy Hagen (5-6 guard) and juniors Alex Blair (6-1 forward), Kirby Deming (5-5 guard) and Antoinette Pusateri (5-1 guard).

Weisenbach was a regular off the bench and averaged 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds, and Blair had games in which she saw significant playing time, too. Both had games in which they scored in double figures.

Sophomores Meredith Stranges (6-0 center), Sarah McQuade (5-4 guard) and Lindsay Zitzke (5-10 forward) were called up to the varsity from the junior varsity that went 16-4.

The Shamrocks have just two newcomers in senior Kelli Axner (5-7 guard) and sophomore Stacy Axner (5-6 guard). Both played for Chagrin Falls.

"Our new players are fitting in nicely," MacKay said. "They both can run the floor well and dribble the ball well. They're going to help us a lot."

The roster features a lot of experience and Grimes has said that is going to enable her to play a lot of combinations, some tall -- Bornhorst can bring the ball up the court as a 6-1 guard -- and some small with a lot of speed that can race opponents up and down the floor.

"Our depth is a lot better this year," Grimes said. "We have five posts and eight guards, and as long as everyone works hard I plan to play them so we can wear people down. We can go big and we can go little. There's a lot of different combinations we can use out there."

Coffman now is in the OCC-Central with Central Crossing, Hilliard Darby, Hilliard Davidson, Thomas Worthington, Upper Arlington, Westland and Worthington Kilbourne.

Outside of the league, the best competition will come Dec. 27-28 in a holiday tournament at Lakota West. The Shamrocks will meet Cincinnati Walnut Hills, which returns three starters from a team that went 21-3 and lost in the district tournament to eventual state champion Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 43-36. The other teams in the field -- Toledo Central Catholic and Lakota West -- reached the state tournament.

Among some of the other top opponents Coffman will also see are Toledo Waite, Troy Christian and Clayton Northmont.

"We tried to pick up some good competition from around Ohio and I think we did," Grimes said. "Playing teams like this is going to help us get ready for March."

At a glance

•Coach: Mary Ann Grimes, 12th season

•Opener: Dec. 5 vs. Upper Arlington

•Key players: Andi Baylin, Becca Bornhorst and Sam MacKay