After coaching the Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team for 12 years, Mary Ann Grimes was ready for a break after the 2008-09 season.

After coaching the Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team for 12 years, Mary Ann Grimes was ready for a break after the 2008-09 season.

But just a few months into her "retirement," the veteran coach realized she was not ready to slow down.

Grimes' decision to return to coaching could benefit the Olentangy Orange girls basketball team this season.

Grimes has replaced Amber Ellison, who was 25-18 in two years with the team. Grimes inherited a team that returned most of its key players from last season's 17-5 squad.

"The first few months of coaching the team have been very good," said Grimes, whose team opens the season Friday against Cleveland Collinwood in the Delaware County Classic at Orange. "The parents and the kids had a chance to get to know me and I've gotten to know them. They've been very supportive about what we're trying to accomplish here."

Grimes hopes to build the Pioneers into one of the premier teams in the area.

The last four seasons under Grimes, Coffman went 88-9 and won league titles each season. She has compiled a 327-177 record in 33 years of coaching with stints at West Lafayette Ridgewood, Dresden Tri-Valley, Coffman and the University of Akron.

Guard Maddy Joseph said it didn't take her long to sense a change.

"She's very intense," said Joseph, a 5-foot-6 sophomore who averaged 9.5 points and 2.5 assists last year. "She might yell, but it's never because she's mad at you. When you do what she wants the right way, she's always there to say you did an excellent job."

Joseph believes that all the pieces are there to build on last season. The Pioneers lost three players to graduation, including guard T.J. Williams (7.5 points and 8.0 rebounds), from a team that lost to Brookhaven 44-26 in a Division I district semifinal last year.

Juniors Ashley Bassett-Smith (6-3 center), Allison Donatelli (5-6 guard) and Kelsey Lewis (6-1 center), and sophomores Taylor Agler (5-7 point guard), Kierstynn Myers (5-5 guard) and Mya Walker (5-6 forward) all return. Agler, Joseph and Lewis were honorable mention all-district players. Lewis was first-team all-OCC-Capital Division, while Agler was second team and Joseph was honorable mention. Lewis, a 63 percent shooter from the field, led the team with averages of 11.3 points and 9.2 rebounds. Agler averaged 10.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.0 steals.

Juniors Tiffany Brooks (5-9 guard) and Taylor Bundy (5-11 forward) and sophomores Tori Davis (5-10 guard), Taylor Delara (5-6 guard) and Kayla Young (5-7 guard) also are expected to contribute.

Grimes hopes her team's lineup can weather the OCC-Capital. The team was third in the league last year at 10-4, behind New Albany (13-1) and Big Walnut (12-2). Hilliard Bradley (7-7), Mount Vernon (7-7), Delaware (5-9), Watkins Memorial (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14) rounded out the standings.

Bradley (Division II) and New Albany (Division I) lost in district finals last year.

"Defeating Brookhaven and Africentric and losing to Reynoldsburg in a close game (at a recent five-game scrimmage) gave us a lot of confidence," Joseph said. "We've been talking about winning the OCC championship. If we play together and talk on the floor, I know we can go far."