DUBLIN, Ohio -- This is what Dublin Coffman wanted but the Rocks are looking to go even further. Using a dominant defensive effort in Saturday's Division I district final against Marysville, the Rocks converted clutch free throws late to edge past the Monarchs, 37-29.
In what was a slow start to the game, Dublin Coffman led 5-2 at the end of the first. The Rocks held Marysville without a field goal until the 5:15 mark of the second quarter, extending its lead to as high as nine points at 18-9 late in the half.
Marysville got a quick boost with less than a second remaining, going into halftime trailing 18-11.
In the third quarter, Dublin Coffman extended its lead to double digits through some big-time defensive plays from junior Tara Flynn and sophomore Tessa Grady. The Rocks went into a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap which seemed to really bother Marysville, as four-straight points from Grady put Coffman ahead 24-14 with 4:59 remaining in the third.
Marysville didn't back down, however, as the Monarchs closed on a 9-2 run to edge the deficit to three points at 26-23 heading into the final frame.
In the fourth quarter, Marysville got as close as two points but could never strike the decisive blow, as the Monarchs seemed to have their final chance when trailing 31-28 with just under a minute to go.
Unfortunately for Marysville, they sent Flynn to the line back to back times, as the junior calmly knocked down all four attempts. Sophomore Jenna Kopyar followed that up after another important Coffman stop, sinking back to back free throws to give the Rocks their final lead at 37-28.
Grinding out the Monarchs and ending the game on a 6-0 run in the final minute, Coffman advanced to its first regional tournament since 2017.
After falling in the district rounds the last three years, the Rocks finally broke through - thanks in part to Thomas Worthington upsetting Gahanna Lincoln in the sectional semifinals a week ago. Gahanna knocked Coffman out of the last two tournaments and seemed to be a throne in the flesh of the Rocks, however, with the Lions gone, Coffman was the major favorite in its district.
The Rocks had a strong all-around effort on Saturday, as its defense really rose to the occasion. The infusion of senior Kenzie Bicking in the first quarter gave the Rocks a big spark, as Bicking's energy and activity level started a 9-0 run that gave Coffman the cushion it needed to hold off Marysville the rest of the game.
Coffman is extremely deep and offers a great collection of quality guards and wings. The length of Flynn and Grady, who both stand at about 6-foot-1, is critical for this team, as they can guard both on the perimeter and in the paint. When you mix that with unselfish role players like Bicking, junior point guard Taylor Covington and junior wing Cassidy Lafler, and the high level scoring of sophomore Jenna Kopyar, Coffman becomes a force for opponents to deal with.
Marysville has a lot to hang its hat on despite the loss, as the Monarchs went 18-5 this season, won an OCC title and advanced all the way to a district final. The Monarchs are young and have a bright future with sophomores Krutkowskis, Leah Brown and Ava Wilkerson. Don't be surprised to see them right back here next season.
For Coffman, the Rocks move on to the Division I regional tournament which will now be held at Westerville South. The Rocks have a highly-anticipated matchup against No. 3 Reynoldsburg at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, which will pit former Coffman standout Imarianah Russell against her former team.