After posting its first winning season, the Dublin Jerome High School girls basketball team would like to take what it believes is the next logical step: Winning a league championship.

After posting its first winning season, the Dublin Jerome High School girls basketball team would like to take what it believes is the next logical step: Winning a league championship.

The Celtics finished 12-9 overall after a 54-50 overtime loss to Mount Vernon in a first-round Division I district game. They went 9-5 to finish third in the OCC-Capital Division, behind Dublin Scioto (14-0) and Westerville South (11-3), and ahead of fourth-place Olentangy Liberty (8-6).

"This year, our goal is to win the conference and after that, see what we can get," said Jamelia Banks, a 6-foot-1, four-year starting center who averaged 9.7 points per game last season.

Third-year coach Matt Martin believes this team has as good of a shot as anyone at the OCC-Capital title.

"Scioto will be up there because of what they have done over the past few years and (Westerville) South would probably be the favorite," Martin said. "I know from seeing them in the summer that Marysville and Olentangy are really improved, so it should be an interesting season."

The Celtics have four starters back. Aside from Banks, they also have three three-year senior starters in point guard Lena DiBartolomeo (5-1), forward Hillary Kessler (5-9) and forward Julie Mooney (6-0). Mooney led the team in scoring, averaging 10.0 points per game.

"Banks has done a good job of finishing around the rim and has been gaining more confidence in her game," said Martin, who is assisted by Larry Miller, Robert Dunsmore and Ali Simkins. "Kessler is a utility player who can run, hit the 3 and she can rebound with anyone. Mooney was second-team all-league and can really create her own offense.

"DiBartolomeo can hit the 3 and she sees things happen on the court before anyone else does. She's a floor general."

Other returning letterwinners include junior guard Brooke Carrel (5-9) and sophomore post player Lindsey Reiland (6-2).

New to the team are juniors Ai Kusumoto (5-4, guard) and Katie Vaughn (5-9, post player), as well as sophomore Emily Moss (5-7, guard) and freshman Kaitlin Miller (5-10, guard).

"Our defense has really been a key for us in the first couple of scrimmages," Banks said. "It seems like if we play good defense, everything comes together for us on offense."

Jerome opens at 12:30 p.m. Friday against Big Walnut in the Delaware County Shootout at Ohio Wesleyan.

"The opener with Big Walnut will be a test for us," Martin said. "(Coach) Bob Scott's teams are always hard-nosed and if we can get past them, then we should do pretty well."

At a glance

•Coach: Matt Martin, third season

•Opener: Friday at Ohio Dominican against Big Walnut

•Key players: Jamelia Banks, Lena DiBartolomeo, Hillary Kessler and Julie Mooney

Schedule

Nov. 27 at Ohio Wesleyan for Delaware County Shootout vs. Big Walnut

*Dec. 4 vs. Westerville Central

*Dec. 8 at Westerville North

*Dec. 11 vs. Olentangy Liberty

Dec. 14 at Zanesville

*Dec. 18 vs. Westerville South

Dec. 19 vs. Whetstone

*Dec. 22 at Olentangy

Dec. 30 at Linden-McKinley

*Jan. 5 at Marysville

*Jan. 8 vs. Dublin Scioto

*Jan. 14 at Westerville Central

Jan. 18 at Pickerington Central Shootout vs. Creston Norwayne

*Jan. 22 vs. Westerville North

*Jan. 26 at Olentangy Liberty

*Jan. 29 at Westerville South

*Feb. 2 vs. Olentangy

*Feb. 5 vs. Marysville

Feb. 9 vs. Jonathan Alder

*Feb. 12 at Dublin Scioto

*OCC-Cardinal game