Girls Basketball: Dublin Coffman loses regional final on buzzer-beater by Newark's Gwen Stare

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group

Halftime resets were a common theme for the Dublin Coffman girls basketball team in the Division I regional tournament, especially given that the Shamrocks have only two seniors on the roster and the starting lineup consists of three juniors and two sophomores.

Coffman made another spirited second-half comeback in the regional final March 5 against favored Newark at Westerville South, matching a 27-point first half with a 27-point third quarter and grabbing the lead four times in the fourth before falling 75-73 on a buzzer-beating layup from Gwen Stare.

Newark's Gwen Stare (15) celebrates after scoring the winning basket in a 75-73 victory over Dublin Coffman in a Division I regional final March 5 at Westerville South.

“As funny as it might sound, halftime is a big thing for us because it lets us sit down, reflect, gather ourselves and figure out what is working,” Coffman coach Adam Banks said. “One of the good things about us is you never know who will have their night. It’s contagious. When you see the ball go in, everybody feels like they can hit.”

Jenna Kopyar scored a game-high 26 points, more than double her average of 12.8 entering the game, to lead Coffman. The Shamrocks, who finished 23-2, were making their first regional final appearance since 2017 and seeking their second state berth overall and first since 2014.

Coffman erased a 14-point deficit in a regional semifinal March 2 to beat Reynoldsburg 60-57.

The Shamrocks made seven of their 11 3-pointers in the second half March 5, including Kopyar’s heave that bounced and dropped to beat the third-quarter buzzer and make it 56-54.

Jenna Kopyar scored a game-high 26 points in Dublin Coffman's 75-73 loss to Newark in a Division I regional final March 5 at Westerville South.

Emma Shumate’s 19 points led a balanced effort for Newark, which led 40-27 at halftime, but the West Virginia recruit was hampered by foul trouble from late in the second quarter on and fouled out with 2:09 left.

Maddie Vejsicky, who had 18 points, made the defensive play of the night with a steal with about 20 seconds left to set up Stare’s basket. Stare caught a pass from Vejsicky at the top of the key and drove to the basket as time expired.

“The clock was running out and I had to be strong, attack and finish too,” said Stare, who finished with 16 points. “We worked on this in practices and games and I knew I had to finish. We aren’t done yet.”

Cassidy Lafler made two free throws with 2:09 left to give the Shamrocks a 73-71 lead. Mady Stottsberry answered with the tying basket 18 seconds later.

Newark, which won its fourth regional championship and second in a row, improved to 26-1 and will play Akron Hoban in a Division I state semifinal March 12 at the University of Dayton.

Taylor Covington added 11 points for Coffman. 

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave