Fans of the Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team will have to wait a little longer for the opener.

Fans of the Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team will have to wait a little longer for the opener.

While most girls teams open this weekend, the Shamrocks' first game is Dec. 4 at Independence, the day after the boys season officially begins.

The reason is simple - the success of Coffman's fall sports teams. Ten of the Shamrocks' players played fall sports, delaying their start with the basketball team.

"We started practice the first day we could and had six girls," said second-year coach Bryan Patton, whose team was 14-7 overall last season. "Then the soccer players came back the next week and the volleyball players came after that.

"Fortunately, the girls are good athletes and picked up things quickly. We knew we were going to have good fall sports. We wanted to start later so we could utilize as much (practice) time together as we could."

Coffman ended last season with a 52-47 loss to Dublin Jerome in the first round of the Division I district tournament. The Shamrocks finished 10-4 in the OCC-Central Division to tie Hilliard Davidson for second, behind Upper Arlington (13-1) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (8-6), Hilliard Darby (8-6), Central Crossing (5-9), Worthington Kilbourne (2-12) and Westland (0-14).

Coffman lost three players from last season to graduation, including four-year letterwinner Andrea Baylin. The forward averaged 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds last season. A stress fracture in her foot caused her to miss eight games, but she still made second-team all-league.

The Shamrocks return a nucleus of five players, all of whom logged starts last season. However, the team will have a much different feel.

"I think we're going to surprise some people," Patton said. "We're more athletic than last year. We may not be as big, but we're skilled and we're athletic. After watching them play this summer, I knew I had a competitive group."

The returnees are led by senior forward Meredith Stranges. Last season, she averaged 12 points, shot 53 percent from the floor and 73 percent from the foul line, all team-highs. She also averaged six rebounds to rank second on the team and was first-team all-league.

Other full-time starters back are senior Sarah McQuade (point guard) and sophomore Quynh Vo (guard). Senior guard Stacey Axner and sophomore forward Bailey Wilson also return after logging some starts.

McQuade averaged 10 points and three assists and made honorable mention all-league. Vo averaged 5.0 points and 2.5 steals. Wilson averaged 4.0 points and 2.0 steals.

Axner was in the regular rotation all last season as a key shooter and started the final game of the year. Wilson moved into the starting lineup when Baylin went down with her injury.

"I think we're going to be able to get out and run," McQuade said. "I am looking forward to it. Last year we had some new players and didn't know how to always act with each other. But now we know each other, we're playing as a team and it's fun to get out there with everyone."

Also on the team are junior Darian Maynard (guard), sophomores Mackenzie Bailey (forward), Grace Filler (guard) and Shelby Saunders (guard), and freshmen Sam Edwards (point guard), Amanda Stratton (forward/guard) and Griffin Tulles (forward/guard).

Among the team's fall athletes are three players from the volleyball team that was the Division I state runner-up (Axner, Bailey and Stranges) and four who were part of the soccer team that was a Division I regional runner-up (Edwards, Filler, Stratton and Wilson).

The first goal is an OCC-Central title. Defending champion Upper Arlington lost some key players, but Patton said the Bears' junior varsity team was undefeated last season.

"I expect us to compete for the league," Patton said. "It's going to be competitive. Upper Arlington is going to be good again, I think Thomas Worthington is going to better, and even though Hilliard Davidson has a new coach and lost some key players, they'll get going and be there, too."