Having the two-time Division I district Player of the Year back for her senior season should give the Dublin Coffman High School girls basketball team confidence that it will contend for championships at the league and district levels -- and possibly beyond -- again this winter.
From a physical standpoint, the Shamrocks are expecting to bring more to the court this season than just the shooting abilities and experience of 5-foot-9 senior guard Jacy Sheldon.
"You'll find us to be a team that looks to push," said ninth-year coach Bryan Patton, whose team finished 24-2 overall and 10-0 in the OCC-Central Division last season. "We're pretty athletic. Jacy, obviously, dictates a lot with her athleticism and skill level, ability to run and by helping us take advantage of our perimeter shooting. Definitely, I think you'll find a team that will play a lot of different styles depending on who we match up against."
The Shamrocks opened Nov. 23 with a 71-64 victory over host Reynoldsburg in the Gary West Tipoff Classic as Sheldon scored 38 points.
An Ohio State commit, Sheldon averaged 26.3 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals last season while being named state co-Player of the Year and finishing as runner-up for Ohio Ms. Basketball. She entered the season as the program record-holder in points (1,643), steals (372) and field goals (619).
Coffman, which has posted seven consecutive seasons with at least 20 wins, was a state semifinalist in 2014, a regional runner-up in 2017 and a district runner-up in 2015, '16 and last season.
Also returning are seniors Kaitlyn Kopyar (5-10, wing player) and Riley Wagoner (6-0, forward) and juniors Juliana Burris (5-8, guard), Ally Machulski (5-9, wing player) and Kendra Siefker (5-10, forward).
Last season, Kopyar averaged 12.5 points and Wagoner averaged five points.
Imarianah Russell, a 5-10 freshman guard, is a newcomer who made two 3-pointers and totaled eight points against Reynoldsburg.
Also on the team are sophomores Megan Breen (6-3, forward) and Amara Carlson (5-10, wing player) and freshmen Tara Flynn (5-9, guard/wing player) and Cassidy Lafler (5-10, wing player).
In addition to playing Reynoldsburg, the Shamrocks will face Olentangy Liberty (Dec. 8 at Quicken Loans Arena), defending Division III state champion Africentric (Dec. 28 at home), Canton McKinley (Jan. 19 in the Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland), Eastmoor Academy (Jan. 26 in the Nubian Classic at Africentric) and Westerville South (Jan. 29 on the road).
Last season, Liberty, McKinley and Reynoldsburg were Division I district runners-up and South was a Division I regional runner-up. Eastmoor is expected to be one of the district's top teams in Division II.
Coffman opens OCC-Central play Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Upper Arlington, which also was a district runner-up last season.
The Shamrocks lost five players from last season to graduation, including Lilly Edwards, who averaged 12.5 points and 10 rebounds and is playing for Baldwin Wallace, and Dana Axner, who is playing volleyball for Florida Gulf Coast after averaging 11 points, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals.
"We had a good summer," Patton said. "We play some of the best teams in central Ohio, so we're excited. We're going to challenge our kids."
Hockey team building depth
Second-year coach Justin Taber has seen positives regarding the direction in which the hockey team is moving.
The Shamrocks, who finished 6-18-2-3 overall last season and placed fifth in the Capital Hockey Conference-White Division at 3-11-0-2, opened Nov. 23 with a 4-3 victory over Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in the Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin.
Coffman then lost to Mentor Lake Catholic 7-2 and Upper Arlington 6-0 on Nov. 24 before concluding the event Nov. 25 with an 8-0 loss to New Albany.
"We've got a decent amount (of key players) back," Taber said.
"We've got six seniors and three juniors, so we're bottom-heavy again. With the guys last year, I told them at the (team) banquet that they left us in a better spot even though our record didn't show it. We weren't practicing like we've been practicing now until the last week of last year, so there's been competitive, physical practices, which is a good start."
The senior class is comprised of Cam Andrews (forward), Tali Berzins (defenseman), Josh Curtin (defenseman), Sean McCourt (goaltender), Will Tate (defenseman) and Alek Willis (forward).
Also returning are juniors Bo Sung Kim (forward), Evan Mitchell (forward) and Cade Spiker (forward) and sophomores Thiago Jeronimo (forward), Ben Schepflin (forward) and Gavin Schiefferle (defenseman).
Rounding on the roster are sophomores Will Kididis (forward) and Ervin Cui (forward) and freshmen Kyle Hendricks (forward), Cole Morris (forward), Owen North (forward) and Will Pace (goalie).
Junior forward Keegan Hoover was expected to be a key player but opted to play for a travel team, and junior defenseman Tomohiro Sakon moved to Japan.
The biggest loss to graduation was forward Adam Hoover, who scored two goals in Coffman's 9-0 victory over Oxford Talawanda in the first round of the district tournament a year ago.
The five teams in the CHC-White play each other once and play one game against all six teams in the CHC-Red, which is the upper division of the CHC, and all six teams in the CHC-Blue, which is the lower division, for a total of 16 league games.
"It shouldn't matter who we play if we come to play the way we should," Taber said. "This year, they're getting into the system a little sooner and proving their work ethic and doing the things we're asking them to do.
"We don't have an Adam Hoover like we did last year, but everyone can roll pretty good and do what they do pretty well. They're getting along real well."
Athletes announce college decisions
Nine student-athletes, including Sheldon, announced their college decisions Nov. 14.
Luke Bartemes will play men's basketball for Lincoln Memorial and Patrick Preese will play men's basketball for Asbury.
In addition, Maria Howard will play women's golf for Ohio University, Libby Krueger will compete in women's rowing for Indiana, Riana Malais will compete in women's gymnastics at Ohio State, Lexi Piekarski will play women's lacrosse for Kent State, McKenna Schaefer will play women's soccer for Xavier and Wagoner will compete in women's volleyball for Hawaii.
Nov. 23 -- Reynoldsburg in Gary West Tip-Off Classic at Reynoldsburg
Nov. 28 -- vs. Teays Valley
*Dec. 4 -- at Upper Arlington
Dec. 8 -- Olentangy Liberty at Quicken Loans Arena
*Dec. 10 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Dec. 12 -- vs. Logan
*Dec. 14 -- vs. Westland
Dec. 15 -- vs. Olentangy
*Dec. 21 -- at Marysville
Dec. 28 -- Africentric in Rocks Holiday Classic at home
*Jan. 4 -- at Central Crossing
Jan. 8 -- vs. Pickerington North
*Jan. 11 -- vs. UA
*Jan. 17 -- at Davidson
Jan. 19 -- Canton McKinley in Classic in the Country at Berlin Hiland
Jan. 22 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Jan. 24 -- at Westland
Jan. 26 -- Eastmoor Academy in Nubian Classic at Africentric
Jan. 29 -- at Westerville South
*Feb. 1 -- vs. Marysville
Feb. 5 -- at Westerville North
*Feb. 7 -- vs. Central Crossing
Nov. 23 -- Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 24 -- Mentor Lake Catholic and Upper Arlington in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 25 -- TBA in Chiller Thanksgiving Classic at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 29 -- Olentangy in Adam Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
Nov. 30 -- Jerome in Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 1 -- Newark in Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 2 -- TBA in Allgeyer Memorial at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 9 -- Olentangy Berlin at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 14 -- Springboro at South Metro Ice
*Dec. 15 -- Olentangy Orange at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 16 -- Olentangy at Chiller North
*Dec. 17 -- Olentangy Liberty at Chiller Dublin
*Dec. 22 -- St. Charles at OhioHealth Ice Haus
*Dec. 27 -- DeSales at Chiller Easton
*Dec. 29 -- UA at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 5 -- Watterson at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 6 -- Thomas Worthington at Chiller North
*Jan. 11 -- Jerome at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 12 -- Scioto at Chiller Dublin
Jan. 18-20 -- TBA in Mark Rasmus Memorial Invitational at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania
*Jan. 25 -- Gahanna at Chiller Dublin
*Jan. 26 -- Cincinnati Moeller at Chiller Dublin
*Feb. 1 -- New Albany at Chiller Easton
*Feb. 3 -- Columbus Academy at OhioHealth Ice Haus
Feb. 7-10 -- Blue Jackets Cup
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman boys basketball, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
Nov. 30 -- At Mansfield Senior
Dec. 1 -- Home vs. Dayton Thurgood Marshall
SWIMMING & DIVING
Dec. 1 -- Worthington Kilbourne Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Dec. 1 -- Uniontown Lake Invitational