The Africentric Early College girls basketball team did its best to keep things in perspective after a 67-49 loss to Anna in the Division III state championship game March 16 at Ohio State.
With senior post player Marley Hill to his left and junior guard Darianne Seward to his right, coach Will McKinney explained the loss shouldn't overshadow his team's accomplishments.
The Nubians, he reasoned, were in select company. They defeated Anna 70-66 in overtime to win the state title last year and appeared in their fifth state final this season.
"The first time we went to state and lost in the state championship game in 2008, I made a drastic mistake in letting that loss eat at me," McKinney said. "You lose a fantastic opportunity to be a part of the state tournament and everything that comes with it. To be one of the last two teams to play is something that never really goes away."
Africentric went 22-6 with just one key senior.
Hill, a University of Cincinnati recruit who was named one of the state's co-Players of the Year, had 19 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks in her final prep game.
The only other senior, forward Arianna Gilliam, played two minutes in the state final.
Seward had 10 points and was one of five junior guards who played against Anna, along with Sierra Harley, Kyra Jones, Alexis Parks and Ayrielle Stith.
Sophomore guards Dayuna Johnson and Dejanique Franks were key backups.
Expected to replace Hill next season will be 6-foot-3 junior Alexa Hart, who was ineligible this season after transferring from North Ridgeville Lake Ridge Academy but practiced with the team all season.
Africentric edged Beverly Fort Frye 43-40 on March 14 in a state semifinal, as Hill had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Red Devils' season ends in regional semi
Marion-Franklin boys basketball coach Scott Williams believes his team's appearance in the Division II regional tournament might be the beginning of greater things for his program.
"I'm so happy for our kids because they did a fantastic job this season," said Williams, who completed his second season. "This season was about laying the foundation. We've got to put forth hard work and dedication."
The Red Devils were seeded just 11th for the district tournament but beat Jonathan Alder 79-34 in their postseason opener Feb. 23 and upset fifth-seeded Hartley 51-48 in a second-round game Feb. 28.
After edging Beechcroft 61-60 in a district semifinal March 6 at Newark, the Red Devils blew past DeSales 56-34 on March 8 to win their first district championship since 1993.
On March 14 at Kettering Fairmont, Marion-Franklin lost to Kettering Alter 65-40 in a regional semifinal to finish 14-13.
Marquiez Lawrence, a 6-8 forward who made first-team all-league, had 13 points against Alter. He was one of three seniors with guard Dominique Cartier and forward Shavon Hairston.
Sophomore Tony Anderson, a 6-8 forward who along with Cartier made honorable mention all-league, should be among the top returnees. Junior guard John Montgomery had 11 points in the regional semifinal.