The last time the Columbus East High School boys basketball team advanced past the second round of the district tournament was 2003 when it featured Division II district Player of the Year Cyrus Smith and ended up a district runner-up.

The last time the Columbus East High School boys basketball team advanced past the second round of the district tournament was 2003 when it featured Division II district Player of the Year Cyrus Smith and ended up a district runner-up.

One of the area's better scoring duos has the Tigers thinking big again this season.

With senior guard Jerry Dixon and senior small forward Jordan Laster leading the way, East was averaging 73.5 points through eight games and already had surpassed its City League-North Division victory total from last season.

The Tigers have gotten a particularly big boost from the addition of Dixon.

After starting for Columbus South as a sophomore, Dixon transferred to East and practiced with the Tigers last year while he sat out.

"It's faster here, and we like to run more," Dixon said. "It's been great playing with (Laster). Any time we need a big shot, he hits them."

Dixon, a 6-foot point guard who has received interest from a list of colleges that includes Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kent State and Miami University, was averaging 27.2 points through eight games.

During that same span, Laster was averaging 21 points while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range.

Other key players for the Tigers include sophomore shooting guard Denzel Lipson, senior post player DeAndre Johnson (6-3) and freshman post player James Davis (6-3).

According to Bob White, who is in his 20th year as coach, East failed to execute during the key moments of losses to Brookhaven, 72-63 on Jan. 15, and Beechcroft, 76-65 on Jan. 19.

"(In the loss to Beechcroft) we go up one and then just kind of self-destructed," White said before his team dropped to 4-5 overall and 3-5 in the City League-North Division with a 89-88 overtime loss to Mifflin last Friday. "I just thought we shot it a little too quick after that. We've got to get better. We probably should be more like 7-1, but I just don't think we've been in sync yet. We definitely should have gotten (wins against Brookhaven and Beechcroft)."

•WARRIORS VS. NUBIANS GIRLS II -- First place in the City-South, and likely a berth in the City League girls basketball championship game, will be on the line when Eastmoor travels to Africentric on Tuesday.

Since losing to the Nubians 67-55 on Jan. 11, the Warriors have spent significant time watching film from the setback.

"That's our motivation," Eastmoor coach Jim Miranda said. "We had an opportunity to challenge for that game, but we just made too many mistakes and didn't capitalize on the opportunities that we had. We didn't play as well as we could have."

Junior forward Chelsey Radcliff has been the Warriors' scoring leader, averaging 16 points through 14 games, and freshman forward Tajanee Wells (5-10) has joined her to create a strong inside duo.

Camilla Carrera is the team's top outside shooter, averaging about 39 percent from 3-point range. Brittney Boone and T.J. Palmer also have been key contributors.

"Chelsey Radcliff has been tremendous this year," Miranda said. "She's outhustled folks all year, and Tajanee Wells is the other big player we have. It's really been a team effort."

The Nubians had won 69 consecutive City-South games before playing Briggs last Tuesday and are going for their fifth consecutive title.

The Warriors went 14-0 in 2004-05 to win the City-South title. Africentric's last league loss came to the Warriors, 70-44 on Jan. 14, 2005, and it finished third at 10-4 in the league behind Eastmoor and Independence (12-2) that season.

The Nubians were 10-4 overall before last Tuesday, with all of their losses coming to out-of-area teams -- Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown (58-53 on Dec. 5), Memphis (Tenn.) Ridgeway (59-46 on Dec. 28), Farmington (W.Va.) North Marion (56-45 on Dec. 29) and Canton McKinley (40-25 on Jan. 16). In state polls released Jan. 20, McKinley was ninth in Division I, Hathaway Brown was seventh in Division II and the Nubians were seventh in Division III.

Africentric was first in the Division III area coaches poll released Jan. 19 and Eastmoor was third in Division II.

Junior forward Raven Ferguson is the Nubians' leading scorer, averaging more than 23 points through 14 games. She scored 22 in the win over the Warriors.

"We're still learning how to dribble and learning how to pass the ball," Miranda said. "We're constantly harping on the fundamentals. We've been doing a better job of boxing out and rebounding. The first time we played Africentric, we spotted them almost nine points before we even started playing. We just kept battling back, but then they would build it back to 12. We're still looking at that game a lot.

"(Ferguson) is a tremendous athlete and she's going to get hers. But if we could have kept their other players in check, she could have scored her 20. They're working, and that's all you can ask."

•COMING UP -- Two of the biggest events of the regular season involving City League swimming and wrestling programs will take place over the next week.

Centennial will be host to the Stars Invitational swim meet Saturday at the Columbus Aquatic Center. Northland and Whetstone also will be in attendance from the City, along with Marion Harding, Mount Gilead and Wellington.

In wrestling, Whetstone will play host to Centennial on Wednesday in the battle for the Golden Grappler trophy. Last season, the Stars won 42-28.