The interest and the excitement about the Dublin Jerome High School girls basketball team is there, and coach Matt Martin thinks it's time for the development of the program to show up in the win column as well.

The interest and the excitement about the Dublin Jerome High School girls basketball team is there, and coach Matt Martin thinks it's time for the development of the program to show up in the win column as well.

Martin, who was the junior varsity coach in 2006-07 before taking over last season, has brought energy and enthusiasm to the program that seems to be rubbing off. The Celtics now have enough players to field a varsity, junior varsity and a freshman team, making them the only team in Dublin to have three squads.

Last season, the Celtics doubled their win total from the previous season but still finished 4-17 overall. Heading into this season, Martin doesn't want his players looking simply to take baby steps.

"We always shoot for the stars," he said. "We're always talking championships, the OCC, and we always talk about the tournament. We expect the most out of the girls and they're always expecting the most out of the coaches."

Junior Jamelia Banks, who has been a key member on the varsity since her freshman season, said there's no doubt that the confidence among the players is higher than in years past.

"This season, everyone actually thinks that we can go far," Banks said. "There are no doubts in anyone's head that we can win a lot of games."

Jerome will open Friday at Olentangy Orange against Big Walnut in the Delaware County Tip-Off Classic.

Last season, Jerome finished sixth in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 0-10 behind Pickerington Central (10-0), Olentangy (7-3), Westerville South (6-4), Mount Vernon (4-6) and Worthington Kilbourne (2-8). The Celtics still are in the OCC-Cardinal, but their rivals now are Scioto, Westerville North, Westerville Central, Westerville South, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty and Marysville.

The Celtics still are looking to clear the opening hurdle of the Division I district tournament. The Celtics will be looking for their first district tournament win after they took a bye and lost to Watterson 47-33 in the second round last year.

Jerome lost five graduates, including their second-leading scorer Jamie Banks, but more than 80 percent of the total scoring is back from last year's team.

Martin still is focusing his players on the defensive end first -- the Celtics have a goal to allow fewer than 37 points per game -- but he said this team should have more offensive weapons than last year. He also expects the Celtics to play a more up-and-down style than last season.

"You're going to see more fast-break opportunities, running the secondary break," Martin said. "You're going to see more of a 3-out, 2-in offensive set this year. Last year we ran a lot of four guards, one in the post. This year, we have more of a balance of scoring. We literally have five girls on the floor that I believe can go double-digits on any night."

Martin said the team still has to rely heavily on Jamelia Banks, who will start at center for a third season. Banks, who made second-team all-OCC-Cardinal, developed more consistency in her offensive game last year, improving her scoring average from 8.3 points as a freshman to 10.8 points last year. Martin said the key will be whether Banks can stay out of foul trouble, because the Celtics "need her on the floor 90 percent of the time, if not more."

The other four starters all have significant experience. Junior Lena DiBartolomeo started on and off last season and will take over the starting point guard role this season, and junior Julie Mooney will start for a second season at shooting guard. Junior Hillary Kessler will start at wing and senior Brittany Albert will start at power forward.

Mooney and Kessler were the third and fourth scoring options last season and each went in double-figures multiple times. Albert is a fourth-year varsity player but missed most of last season with injuries.

Martin said that sophomore Brooke Carrel and senior guard Jamie Snodgrass likely will see plenty of action off the bench.

Also on the roster are sophomore post player Gabrielle Arguelles, junior guard Anneka Hokanson and senior post player Lauren Floro.

At a glance

•Coach: Matt Martin, second season

•Opener: Friday vs. Big Walnut at Olentangy Orange

•Key players: Brittany Albert, Jamelia Banks, Hillary Kessler and Julie Mooney