Notebook: Chemistry, balance lift Dublin Coffman girls basketball team to sixth straight OCC title
After losing its top two scorers from a team that reached a Division I district final, the Dublin Coffman girls basketball team entered this season more focused than ever on not taking a step back.
The formula the Shamrocks came up with has featured defense, chemistry and offensive balance, and it’s worked almost to perfection.
With a 59-35 victory over Hilliard Bradley on Feb. 9, Coffman improved to 18-1 overall and 9-0 in the OCC-Central Division to wrap up a sixth consecutive league title.
“Our team chemistry is just great,” senior guard Kenzie Bicking said. “We have each other’s backs no matter what, and I think we fully trust each other this year. That’s really carried us over. We have 12 players that play every game, and it’s really hard (for opponents) to adjust. Everybody does something so different, and we have a bunch of people that are really good at different things. It’s really hard to guard us.”
The Shamrocks are the second seed for the Division I district tournament and will open Feb. 19 at home against 38th-seeded Central Crossing in a second-round game. The winner plays 11th-seeded Marion Harding, 18th-seeded Scioto or 22nd-seeded Jerome on Feb. 24 in a district semifinal.
Should Coffman reach a district final Feb. 27, the most likely opponent is No. 6 Gahanna, which beat the Shamrocks in a district semifinal in 2019 and a district final last season.
Coffman defeated the Lions 67-62 in its Dec. 18 opener.
The Shamrocks lost 52-36 to Watterson on Dec. 29 but won their 16th consecutive game by beating Bradley as junior forward Cassidy Lafler finished with 15 points, sophomore wing player Tessa Grady scored 11, junior guard Taylor Covington had 10 and Bicking added nine.
The only other senior is forward Megan Breen.
Sophomore guard Jenna Kopyar was averaging a team-best 13 points through 19 games, and juniors Veronica Baldridge (forward), Julia Flynn (guard), Tara Flynn (guard), Maya Miles (forward) and Ellie Vaccari (guard) all have contributed.
Coach Adam Banks has been stressing defense and cutting down on mistakes as his team prepares for the postseason. The Shamrocks committed just three turnovers in the second half and nine total against Bradley.
“Honestly, the offseason and (the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic) definitely helped us get stronger in all those workouts we put in when we didn’t even know if we were going to have a season,” Kopyar said. “We had to face adversity in the offseason and that helped us get stronger. Everybody has their role and knows their role and everyone knows how to make the extra pass. This team is so unselfish, which leads us to our success.
“(Beating Bradley) is awesome because this is our sixth straight league title and that was one of our motivating factors. Our league changed this year, so it’s definitely very tough competition and we’d never get anything without earning it.”
•The Scioto girls basketball team handed Westerville North its first OCC-Capital loss, beating the Warriors 43-34 on Feb. 9.
Ashleigh Rothe led Scioto with 12 points.
“We’ve done a nice job and our kids have stayed healthy,” coach Jen Music said. “We talk about keep being smart, keep doing the little things and let’s finish strong.”
North clinched the outright title as it was 12-1 in the league before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Feb. 12.
The Irish were 9-6 overall and 6-5 in the league before facing Big Walnut on Feb. 12.
Rothe scored 11 points and Gabbie Johnson added 10 in a 45-15 win at Westerville South on Feb. 6.
Seeded 18th in the district tournament, Scioto will play 11th-seeded Marion Harding or 22nd-seeded Jerome in the second round Feb. 19 at the home of the better seed. The winner likely visits second-seeded Coffman in a semifinal Feb. 24.
Through 15 games, Rothe led in scoring at 11.7 per game followed by Karleigh Rothe (9.9). Karleigh Rothe (7.9), Alec Rothe (5.5) and Ashleigh Rothe (5.1) led in rebounding.
•As it headed into the Division I district tournament, the Jerome girls basketball team was hitting its peak.
The Celtics, who were seeded 22nd for the postseason and opened Feb. 16 at 11th-seeded Marion Harding in a first-round game, had won four of six before losing 50-48 to Worthington Kilbourne on Feb. 10 to drop to 8-12 overall.
The Wolves improved to 13-6 with the win and were seeded 15th for the district tournament.
In a 52-45 victory over Hilliard Darby on Feb. 9 that improved Jerome’s OCC-Cardinal record to 4-5, senior guard/forward Amaris Lowery finished with 16 points, freshman guard Kadence Conley scored 11 and sophomore wing player Lisa Kuhlman added 10.
Other key contributors have included seniors Darby Adams (post player), Ali Ford (guard), Megan Keys (guard) and Meredith Wheeler (forward) and juniors Maria Holscher (guard) and Paige Wleklinski (post player).
“The thing with this team is that we’re trying to get them to believe in themselves and continue to grow,” coach Pam Hartford said. “Almost every game somebody plays a role. Our posts have really started to understand what posts need to do. They’re excellent rebounders and are understanding spacing better. Our guards are starting to re-position themselves better.”
•The Coffman gymnastics team looks to build on strong recent performances as it prepares for the OCC-Central meet Feb. 20 at Thomas Worthington and will be joined by Grove City, Hilliard Bradley, Olentangy Orange, Westerville Central and Westland.
The district meet is Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne.
On Feb. 1 in a home meet, the Shamrocks scored 138.25 to edge Jerome (137.75) while Upper Arlington (131.15), Olentangy (130.7), Grove City (122) and Watkins Memorial (33.5) rounded out the standings.
Sophomore Emily Yoshino finished as runner-up in the all-around competition (36.35) behind Jerome junior Raegan Ernst (36.4). Yoshino was first on beam (9.6).
Freshman Avery Ragland was third (34.95) all-around, with junior Lorian Crispin and freshman Aleigha Crispin tying for seventh (33.2).
•The Jerome hockey team, which snapped an eight-game losing streak with a win by forfeit over Springboro on Feb. 7, lost 4-1 to Olentangy Orange in the opening round of the Blue Jackets Cup on Feb. 11 at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The setback dropped the Celtics to 8-13-1-1 overall heading into the district tournament, where they are the ninth seed and will open against 25th-seeded Scioto on Feb. 19 at Chiller North.
The winner plays eighth-seeded Thomas Worthington or 22nd-seeded DeSales on Feb. 20 in a second-round game at the Ice Haus, with the winner advancing to face top-seeded St. Charles, 12th-seeded New Albany or 23rd-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore on Feb. 27 at the Ice Haus.
On Feb. 6, Jerome got a goal from senior forward Evan Halligan but lost to St. Charles 3-1.
With the win over Springboro, the Celtics finished fifth at 4-10-1-1 in the CHC-Red Division.
Halligan had 16 goals and seven assists through 21 games, with senior forward Landon Hale scoring six goals and junior J.B. Russo going 6-7-1 in goal.
•Scioto gymnastics coach Kristen Willms continues to be pleased with her team’s development.
The Irish have featured senior Sara Sun, sophomores Kaitlyn Bassingthwaite and Elena Charria and freshmen Thatiyana Haley and Karen Lee.
Scioto will compete in the OCC-Buckeye meet Feb. 20 at Thomas Worthington and the district meet Feb. 27 at Worthington Kilbourne.
At district, the top three teams advance to the state team meet March 5 at Hilliard Bradley, while the top eight finishers in each event and the all-around qualify for the individual state meet March 6 at Bradley.
“We’re working on upgrading some skills before championships start and putting some extra tenths to our start values,” Willms said. “Our goal is to do our best gymnastics and get a season-high score.”