The Northland High School boys basketball team captured its fifth Division I district championship in six seasons and its second in a row by beating eighth-seeded Westerville Central 64-53 in a district final March 8 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
The latest title came during a season in which the top-seeded Vikings had their streak of City League championships snapped at seven.
Northland was 20-4 before playing Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal March 12 at the Fairgrounds. The winner plays Pickerington Central or Upper Arlington in a regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Fairgrounds.
The Vikings lost to Pickerington Central 74-70 on Jan. 25.
"The Brookhaven loss (67-66 on Feb. 10) got us going," coach Sean Taylor said. "Since that time, practices have been tougher.
"There's great basketball in central Ohio. I knew Dublin Coffman was going to have a chance to be there. Of course, we know about Pickerington Central."
The regional champion faces Trotwood-Madison, Huber Heights Wayne, Middletown or Cincinnati Moeller in a state semifinal March 21 at Ohio State. The state final is March 22 at OSU.
Derek McKeithen had 20 points and Shemar Waugh scored 14 against Westerville Central to lead Northland, which beat Teays Valley 51-44 in a district semifinal March 4 at Olentangy Orange.
Pickerington Central improved to 20-6 with a 58-42 win over Zanesville in a district final March 8 and is making its third consecutive regional appearance. Senior forward Jae'Sean Tate, an Ohio State signee, is out for the season with an injury, but the Tigers still have senior guard Connor Kern, an Arkansas State signee.
Upper Arlington edged Gahanna 55-49 in a district final March 8 to improve to 24-1. The Golden Bears are led by senior guard Kevin Vannatta, a North Carolina-Asheville signee who had 26 points against Gahanna.
Africentric girls team back at state
The Africentric Early College girls basketball team has advanced to state for the sixth time in program history.
The Nubians beat Archbold 57-42 in a Division III regional final March 8 at Lexington to improve to 24-3 and move on to state for the third consecutive season.
Africentric, which won state titles in 2007, 2009 and 2012 and was state runner-up in 2008 and last season, plays Smithville in a semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Ohio State. The winner faces Versailles or Proctorville Fairland in the final at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Ohio State.
"Man, I'm excited," coach Will McKinney said. "It never gets old. I truly appreciate it."
Alexis Parks had 17 points, Alexa Hart had 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots and Sierra Harley added 11 points against Archbold.
The Nubians beat Bucyrus Wynford 52-32 in a regional semifinal March 5 at Lexington behind 17 points from Harley.
In 2012, Africentric beat Smithville 57-37 in a state semifinal and edged Anna 70-66 in overtime in the championship game. Last season, the Nubians lost to Anna 67-49 in the state final.
Nubians, Warriors boys capture district titles
The Africentric and Eastmoor Academy boys basketball teams also won district championships.
The Nubians rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat Fairfield Christian 49-46 in a Division IV district final March 5 at the Fairgrounds, giving them their third district title in four seasons.
Africentric faced Peebles in a regional semifinal March 11 at Ohio University. The winner plays Harvest Prep or Leesburg Fairfield in a regional final at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, at OU.
The regional champion will play Willoughby Cornerstone Christian, Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, Malvern or Richmond Heights in a state semifinal March 20 at Ohio State. The state final is March 22 at OSU.
Against Fairfield Christian, Houston Smith had 17 points and six rebounds and Jaquan Harrison scored 14 points as the Nubians improved to 15-10.
"It's like watching my babies grow up," coach Michael Bates said. "They grinded out that win."
Eastmoor beat Bloom-Carroll 44-39 in a Division II district final March 7 at the Fairgrounds for its second district title in three years.
The Warriors improved to 18-6 and advanced to face Cincinnati Taft in a regional semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at Kettering Fairmont.
The winner plays Dayton Dunbar or Dayton Thurgood Marshall in a regional final at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at Fairmont.
The regional champion faces Norwalk, Vermilion, Lima Bath or Defiance in a state semifinal March 20 at Ohio State. The state final is March 22 at OSU.
"It feels good to be back (in the regional)," Warriors coach Jim Miranda said.
Nate Jameson had 13 points and five rebounds and Shamonty Manning added 11 points and eight rebounds against Bloom-Carroll to lead the Warriors, who had just four turnovers.
Bearcats boys fall in district final
The second-seeded Brookhaven boys basketball team lost to top-seeded and defending state champion Watterson 48-28 in a Division II district final March 7 at the Fairgrounds to finish 20-5.
The contest likely was last in program history for the Bearcats, as Columbus City Schools recently announced that Brookhaven is expected to close at the end of the school year.
Senior Ronnie Williams and sophomore Macyah Fleming each scored 10 points to lead the Bearcats, who missed their first 18 field-goal attempts.
"We had some unbelievably great kids," said coach Hali Robinson.
Brookhaven, which won its first City championship since 2006 this season, had two other seniors in backups Shakarr Easley and George Howard.
Three City girls teams fall in regional
The Northland, Eastmoor and Centennial girls basketball teams each had their seasons end with regional semifinal losses March 4.
The Vikings fell to Reynoldsburg 60-32 in a Division I regional semifinal at Otterbein University to finish 22-3.
It marked the final prep game for seniors Aliyah Colvin, Gabby Evans and Brooklynn Peterson. The Vikings expect to return a junior class that includes sisters Carli Codner-Pinto and Miesha Howard and sisters Ariel Skipper and Armani Skipper.
Eastmoor lost to Springfield Kenton Ridge 59-58 in a Division II regional semifinal at Springfield to finish 20-7.
The Warriors got 20 points from sophomore Amani Burke, 12 from sophomore Rahnia Price and 10 from sophomore Jala Belcher.
Juniors Imani Hill and Anee Braswell and sophomore Mahogany Merritt are other key players who are eligible to return.
Centennial lost to Zanesville Maysville 72-37 in a Division II regional semifinal at Zanesville to finish 18-8.
Bruins, Scots bowlers end seasons at state
Having their seasons end at the state's highest level brought gratification to both the Walnut Ridge boys and Briggs girls bowling programs.
Briggs, which finished 15th at state a year ago, made it to the championship round for the first time and placed sixth in the Division I tournament March 8 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
During a quarterfinal match in the championship round, the Bruins led Mentor 2-1 but lost 3-2.
Briggs was fifth (3,148) after the qualifying round. Junior Tori Pappas tied for 16th with a 580 three-game series, followed by junior Randi Chalfant (37th, 534), senior Samantha Rainey (tied for 38th, 533) and senior Jaid Radde (69th, 460).
Walnut Ridge, whose only other state appearance as a team came in 2010 when it placed ninth, finished 16th (2,915) in the Division I tournament March 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
The Scots were led by seniors Wayne Russell Jr. (tied for 45th, 547), Michael Mills (55th, 535) and Brenden Ridley (71st, 467).
Russell had finished 65th (509) at state as a sophomore.