Girls Basketball: Dublin Scioto Irish aim to extend streak of winning seasons
Dublin Scioto girls basketball coach Jen Music believes her team has the potential for another winning season and a deep run in the Division I district tournament.
The Irish are seeking their fourth consecutive campaign above .500 and are looking to get past a district semifinal, where they have lost the past two seasons to Pickerington Central.
“Anything is possible with this group,” said Music, who is in her eighth season. “They play hard. We do a lot of things well executing on offense in our scrimmages and at practices, and I hope that carries into the season.”
After the latest round of OCC realignment, Scioto is competing in the OCC-Capital Division with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused the OCC to delay the start of conference games through at least Dec. 17.
Last season, the Irish finished 17-7 overall and went 10-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish third behind Hilliard Bradley and Worthington Kilbourne, which shared the title at 11-3.
“We have some tough competition this season with our league,” Music said. “We have Kilbourne again. Our league is going to be tough and competitive.”
Back are 5-foot-9 senior guards Ashleigh Rothe and Karleigh Rothe, who are twins.
Ashleigh Rothe averaged 7.8 points and 2.2 steals, and Karleigh Rothe averaged 7.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 steals. Both were second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season.
Also returning is senior guard Avery Schwab (5-6), who will be counted on for increased contributions after significant losses to graduation.
“We have a lot of new players, so we’re just trying to get to where we were last year,” Schwab said. “It’s early in the season. We’re trying to have a good season since (COVID-19) and everything is going on. …There’s some new competition in our league.”
Junior guard Tiffany Trinh (5-2) also returns, and the rest of the roster includes senior Gabbie Johnson (5-9, center/post), juniors Trinity Johnson (5-8, post), Erika Lytle (5-4, guard), Avery Samms (5-3, guard) and Mia Treboni-Hogan (5-8, forward) and freshman Alec Rothe (6-2, center).
Alec Rothe is the sister of Ashleigh and Karleigh.
“We lost a lot of height, a lot of length, a lot of leadership, but I feel like the kids who are stepping in are doing a great job,” Music said. “We have a very positive bunch. They’re very energetic. They bring that positive energy to the program and it feeds into the younger kids.”
Among the five players lost to graduation was Lauren Erickson, who was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. She led the team in scoring at 11.9 points.
Even without its top two scorers from last season, Coffman does not expect to take a step back.
The Shamrocks return nine players who contributed last winter and also should have a taller lineup following back-to-back seasons in which they went 22-3 overall and won the OCC-Central Division at 10-0.
That depth should help, particularly since the team has dealt with injuries to several key players during the preseason.
“We’ve had four girls out with injuries, three of whom started last year, but we’re expected to get all the starters back (by mid-December),” said coach Adam Banks, whose team was a Division I district runner-up a year ago. “They’re all very smart and attentive and we’ll be able to throw them all in.
"We have a bunch of experienced players, so getting them back into the mix is going to be important. We have a lot of kids that can play this year. We don’t have the best player in the state, but I think we have a solid 10 players that can play varsity basketball.”
Junior forward Tara Flynn (5-foot-11), sophomore wing player Tessa Grady (6-1) and sophomore guard Jenna Kopyar (5-10) are the top returnees.
Grady averaged 11.5 points and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, Kopyar was second-team all-league and Flynn was honorable mention all-league.
The only seniors are Kenzie Bicking (5-8, guard) and Megan Breen (6-2, forward).
Juniors Julia Flynn (5-7, guard), Cassidy Lafler (5-10, forward) and Ellie Vaccari (5-7, guard) also return.
Juniors Maya Miles (6-1) and Veronica Baldridge (6-2) provide added size after both saw most of their action on the junior varsity, and junior Taylor Covington (5-7, guard) also is expected to contribute.
Coffman lost three players to graduation, including Juliana Burris, who averaged 12.5 points and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Junior Imarianah Russell, who averaged 12 points and was named the league’s Player of the Year and second-team all-district, transferred to Reynoldsburg.
“I think we’ll be OK,” Banks said. “We lose (Russell), so we lose a component of how we play, but even last year when we had her, we had girls on the bench that were really good that couldn’t find minutes. Her and Juliana Burris are gone so we lose a couple but we have a couple more who are champing at the bit.”
New Celtics coach
excited about potential
Jerome is looking to continue to build on one of the most successful seasons in program history under new coach Pam Hartford, who had been a Watterson assistant the last 15 seasons.
The Celtics reached a Division I district semifinal and finished 15-10 overall and fourth at 8-6 in the OCC-Cardinal Division when it won multiple tournament games in the same season for the first time.
Hartford replaces Natalie Herring, who had been the program’s coach the past four seasons.
“Natalie is a very good coach,” Hartford said. “I saw this job was open, and the kids are great. They work so hard. Every time we ask them to do something, they do what we want. It’s a nice group of girls.”
The top returnee is senior Amaris Lowery (5-10, guard/forward), who averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Seniors Darby Adams (5-8, post player) and Meredith Wheeler (5-8, forward) and junior Paige Wieklinski (6-0, post player) also were key players last season.
The other seniors are Samantha Bowers (5-6, guard), Ali Ford (5-6, guard), Megan Keys (5-4, guard) and Kaitlin Williams (5-4, guard).
Others looking to contribute include juniors Cari Dupote-Fosnot (5-8, guard/wing player), Maria Holscher (5-3, guard), Allison Wagner (5-5, guard) and Ashley Westerheide (5-8, guard/wing player), sophomore Lisa Kuhlman (5-9, wing player) and freshman Kadence Conley (5-3, guard).
“We have an assortment of girls and are trying day by day to put things in,” Hartford said. “Our goal is to improve every single day and just keep working hard and see what we can do. The girls work hard in practice.
"I’ve actually known (Lowery) since she was a freshman. Because there were four seniors last year, she’s learning to take on more and more of a scoring role. She’s a very team-oriented player and she’s got the skills. She’s one of the hardest-working basketball players I’ve seen.”
•Coach: Adam Banks, second season
•Top players: Veronica Baldridge, Kenzie Bicking, Megan Breen, Julia Flynn, Tara Flynn, Tessa Grady, Jenna Kopyar, Cassidy Lafler and Maya Miles
•Key losses: Juliana Burris and Imarianah Russell
•Last season: 22-3 overall
•2019-20 OCC-Central standings: Coffman (10-0), Davidson (7-3), Marysville (6-4), Upper Arlington (5-5), Central Crossing (2-8), Westland (0-10)
Note: Coffman, Davidson and UA are joined in the OCC-Central by Hilliard Bradley, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange.
•2020 postseason: Defeated DeSales 60-19; def. Jerome 61-33; lost to Gahanna 52-39 in Division I district final
•Coach: Pam Hartford, first season
•Top players: Darby Adams, Cari Dupote-Fosnot, Ali Ford, Amaris Lowery, Meredith Wheeler and Paige Wieklinski
•Key losses: Jamie Cline, Alie Intihar, Brittany Sanders and Kendall Sestili
•Last season: 15-10 overall
•2019-20 OCC-Cardinal standings: Worthington Kilbourne (11-3), Hilliard Bradley (11-3), Scioto (10-4), Jerome (8-6), Delaware (7-7), Olentangy Berlin (7-7), Hilliard Darby (2-12), Thomas Worthington (0-14)
Note: Jerome is joined in the OCC-Cardinal by Berlin, Darby, Marysville, Olentangy and Thomas.
•2020 postseason: Def. Thomas 42-21, def. Big Walnut 33-30, lost to Coffman 61-33 in Division I district semifinal
•Coach: Jen Music, eighth season
•Top players: Ashleigh Rothe, Karleigh Rothe, Avery Schwab and Tiffany Trinh
•Key losses: Marlae Davis, Lauren Erickson, Fola Olujide-Ajibade and Folu Olujide-Ajibade
•Last season: 17-7 overall
•2020 postseason: Defeated Marysville 59-37; def. Marion Harding 63-59 (OT); lost to Pickerington Central 69-33 in Division I district semifinal