Sophomore Jacy Sheldon scored 13 of her game-high 26 points as part of a 25-5 second quarter to lead Dublin Coffman.
The big second frame allowed second-seeded Coffman to post a convincing 84-42 victory over Big Walnut in a Division I girls basketball district semifinal Wednesday night at Olentangy High School in Lewis Center.
“Coffman’s a good team — they speed you up,” BW coach Steve Palmer said. “They get you to do things that you don’t usually do.”
Lilly Edwards was fouled on a put-back and knocked down the ensuing free throw to tie the game 20-20 and Abby Vollmer converted a three-point play two possessions later to give the Shamrocks (23-2) the lead for good early in the second quarter.
Junior Katie Cochran scored eight points to lead the 18th-seeded Golden Eagles in the first quarter — a period which was capped by an Emily Neff three-pointer to give BW a 20-17 lead at the end of one.
“We came out of the gate hot — playing hard, playing fast, playing smart,” Palmer said.
But, Sheldon and the Shamrocks were just too much, using pressure defense to force 19 first-half turnovers, which led to transition points. Coffman led 42-25 at the break.
“We didn’t do a good job of getting back — that’s something that we’ve worked on for the last three or four days,” Palmer said. “I felt like we gave up a lot of run-outs and, offensively, we just got a little impatient as well.
“Even when you’re in front of (Sheldon), you don’t have her stopped until the ball is either in your hands or in the hoop, and a lot of times, it’s in the hoop,” Palmer said. “She’s a great player. It’s not like she’s only one-dimensional — you’ve got to guard her on the dribble-drive, but if you give her too much space, she’ll pull up on you.”
Vollmer got hot from three-point range in the third quarter. She knocked down three — all from the corner — and finished with 17 points as Coffman outscored the Eagles 42-17 in the second half.
Cochran finished with 15 points to lead the Eagles (15-9) and Kelly Kreager added 10 points.
It was a turn-around year for Big Walnut, which finished 8-15 last season. The 15 wins are the most for the Eagles since the 2012-13 season. BW also won its first tournament game since that season — a swan song for seniors Kreager, Katie Neff and Taryn Hammond.
“That’s partly due to the seniors and the juniors being committed — realizing what it takes to turn it around,” Palmer said. “I think, defensively, we gave up almost nine points less this year and then we averaged seven and half (more points). You put that together — I think that’s the difference.”
Coffman advances to the district final where it meets 17th-seeded Westerville South Saturday at 1 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.