If you thought the Dublin Coffman girls basketball team would take a step back this season after losing of one of the state's all-time leading scorers to graduation, think again.
Since opening with a 54-51 victory over a defending Division I district champion in Aurora on Nov. 23 at Canton McKinley, the Shamrocks have beaten each of their opponents by 20 or more points.
Coffman is 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division entering their game Friday, Dec. 20, at home against Marysville.
"(We) have really good team chemistry," said wing player Ally Machulski, one of two seniors on the team. "We work really well together. Our team, at first, was kind of crazy because we didn't really know each other that well, but we've had a lot of team bonding and it's obviously shown up on the court. It's more like everyone contributes this year."
Coffman lost 2019 graduate Jacy Sheldon, who scored 2,347 career points and was a three-time Division I district Player of the Year, but the return of senior guard Juliana Burris and sophomore guard Imarianah Russell, combined with the addition of two impact freshmen, has helped to compensate for the loss.
The Shamrocks defeated McKinley 60-40 on Nov. 30 to avenge a 68-65 loss to the Bulldogs last season. McKinley was a regional finalist last season with 2019 graduate and two-time Ms. Basketball honoree Kiersten Bell leading the way.
Coffman then crushed a Division I district runner-up from last season, Upper Arlington, 76-32 on Dec. 3 to open league action.
"Our defense definitely (has been strong)," Burris said. "We're communicating really well and giving 100 percent effort, getting the ball to open players for open 3s. ... We wanted revenge (against McKinley) because we lost to them last year.
"It's definitely been different from past years. It's taken a lot more work, especially in the preseason and in the first few weeks. But based on what I've seen by now, I think we're coming together really nicely."
Russell is averaging 14.5 points, while Burris has seen more extensive time at point guard and has upped her scoring average from nine points to 14.
Freshman Tessa Grady, a 5-foot-11 wing player and guard, is averaging 13.3 points, and 5-7 freshman guard Jenna Kopyar had 14 points against UA and has scored in double figures three times.
Coffman plays Saturday, Dec. 21, at Olentangy Liberty, a Division I district runner-up last season, before closing the 2019 portion of its schedule Dec. 28 at Jonathan Alder, a Division II district runner-up last season that was 6-0 before playing London on Dec. 18.
"I'm not surprised because of how hard (Grady and Kopyar) work," first-year coach Adam Banks said. "Every day in the summer, they're in the gym. We also have a big class of sophomores. It's a headache, but then you're always excited because you know those little headaches early are going to amount to real good stuff at the end. It's fun. It's interesting, and every day is different with the younger girls."
Newcomers lifting gymnastics team
With just four members and little experience last season, the gymnastics team scored 10 points in OCC-Central competition to finish sixth of eight teams and placed last in the 24-team district meet.
The Shamrocks are hoping the addition of a pair of experienced freshmen can help boost their scores this winter.
Coffman, which again has only four gymnasts, scored 90.025 points to finish last in the 13-team Hilliard Invitational on Dec. 14 at Hilliard Darby behind champion Jerome (135.675).
The Shamrocks were led by freshman Emily Yoshino, who won the balance beam (9.25) and was runner-up in the all-around (36.125) behind defending district champion Raegan Ernst (37.025) of Jerome.
"Emily Yoshino is phenomenal," fourth-year coach Kristen Willms said. "She competed in level 9 last year. She's got a lot of stuff left that we haven't seen yet."
The other newcomer is freshman Alexis Colombo, who also has club experience.
Senior Allexia Dempsey and sophomore Lex Lewis are returnees.
"We just want to keep getting better," Willms said. "When you have a small team, there's a lot more pressure on you, so they're forced to be more consistent. They have higher start values and we have to be the most consistent we can be."
Wrestling team staying busy
The wrestling team will close the 2019 portion of its schedule by competing in a pair of prestigious tournaments: the 60th annual North Canton Hoover Holiday Tournament on Friday, Dec. 20, and Saturday, Dec. 21, and the 59th annual Brecksville Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29 and 30.
Coffman was one of 111 teams represented in the Walsh Ironman Tournament held Dec. 13 and 14 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
The Shamrocks scored 58.5 points to tie for 13th overall behind champion Kingston (Pennsylvania) Wyoming Seminary (234.5) and were fourth among Ohio teams.
Seth Shumate won the championship at 195 pounds, beating Nicholas Feldman from Malvern (Pennsylvania) Prep 10-8 in the final, and Riley Ucker went 4-3 and placed eighth at 220.
Ismael Ayoub (132) and Nick Copley (182) both went 2-2, while R.J. Carpenter (heavyweight), Davante Cooper (120), Corey Crawford (106) and Niko Gonzalez (145) each went 1-2.
At last year's North Canton Hoover Holiday Tournament, Coffman finished fifth (126.5) of 29 teams, behind champion Wadsworth (175), as Shumate placed third at 195 and 2019 graduate Lennox Wolak was runner-up at 220.
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman boys basketball, girls basketball, hockey and wrestling teams:
*Dec. 20 -- At Marysville
Dec. 21 -- Home vs. Northland
Dec. 23 -- Home vs. Westerville South
*Dec. 20 -- Home vs. Marysville
Dec. 21 -- At Olentangy Liberty
*Dec. 19 -- DeSales at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 21 -- South Bend (Ind.) Riley at Chiller Dublin
Dec. 22 -- Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn at Chiller North
Dec. 20-21 -- North Canton Hoover Holiday Tournament