By Michael Rich
Dublin Coffman, thanks to a 19-2 third quarter, cruised to a 57-42 win over Olentangy Liberty Friday night in Dublin.
With the Shamrocks’ win, the two teams share the the OCC-Central girls basketball championship.
“If you’re going to share the league title with somebody, (Coffman) is a good team to share it with,” Patriots coach Sam Krafty said.
Krafty made the distinction that there was a difference between needing something and wanting something … and Friday’s game was a game that they wanted to win, but didn’t need.
“We talk a lot about ‘want-to’ and ‘have-to,’” he said. “We get upset when our kids feel like they have to come to the gym – we want kids that want to. (Friday night) wasn’t a have-to win … it was a want-to.
“Our share of the league was wrapped up (with Tuesday night’s win over Hilliard Davidson) … 2016 goes up on our banner regardless of whether we won Friday night or not. But this was a game we really wanted to win.”
The Shamrocks, who have now won nine straight games, came out strong in the second half, opening with a 12-0 run to create distance after holding a two-point lead at the break.
Abby Vollmar finished with 12 points to lead Coffman and Jacy Sheldon had 11 points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds.
Sheldon started the run with a three-pointer, assisted by Vollmar. Emma Warnsman scored to push the lead to 31-24 with 5:12 left in the third before Liberty called a timeout.
It did little to thwart the Coffman charge, however. Sheldon found Christine Szabo for three and then scored to increase the lead to 36-24.
The Patriots (19-3, 12-2) were without leading scorer Alexa Fisher, who has missed the last five games with a foot sprain. Liberty is now 3-2 in her absence after starting the season 16-1.
“The one thing we miss from (having Fisher) is she, when you’re in a funk of a 6-0 or 8-0 run going against you, she gets the ball and lays it in – somehow she gets an easy shot,” Krafty said. “I’ve gotta do a better job of creating ways for the kids to get easy shots.”
Madison King found Savitha Jayaraman underneath to finally put the Patriots on the board with 3:07 left in the period.
The Rocks (19-3, 12-2) closed the period 7-0, which included back-to-back baskets by Paige Warren, to lead 43-24 through three.
The Patriots fought back in the fourth, using a 14-2 run in the middle of the period to cut it to 47-38 with about two and a half minutes left.
“We fought through it and I’m very proud of them for that,” Krafty said. “I think we’re better today than we were two weeks ago.”
Coffman used an 8-0 run at the end of the first quarter to take control. Sheldon’s two free throws gave her team the lead. The Rocks led 15-10 after one.
The Patriots kept it close thanks to three-pointers by Jayaraman, Gracie Foth and Breanna Yashko in the second and trailed 24-22 at the break.
Lauren Hofer led Liberty with a game-high 14 points. She also had four rebounds. Jayaraman added 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Katie Harrop also had three assists and two steals.
Szabo had eight points and six assists and Dana Axner added five points, five steals and three rebounds for the Rocks.
Coffman spoiled the Patriots’ bid at a perfect season with a 47-40 win at Liberty in last season’s finale.
Liberty got the last laugh by knocking Coffman off in the district finals.
Liberty, the Central District’s second-seed, opens tournament play against Westland Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.