During its first 11 games, the Centennial High School boys basketball team used its speed and accurate passing to score an average of 78.5 points while going 9-2 overall and 8-0 in the City League-North Division.
The Stars then hit a slump, scoring an average of 49 points while losing four consecutive games and leaving coach Roosevelt Osborne searching for answers as the Division II district tournament approaches.
"I think there are a variety of reasons that we've gone into a slump and we've got to find a way to get out of it before the tournament starts," Osborne said. "First of all, I want to give our opponents credit, because they've watched film of us and made defensive adjustments that have slowed us down. Another factor is we went through a stretch where we played four games in eight days and our legs went dead. In the first game against Columbus International (a 106-24 win Jan. 18) we scored over 100 points, and in our last four games (entering this week) we've been struggling to score 50 points.
"We're going to need to make some adjustments of our own to get back to where we were, but the most important thing is we need to fix this as a team instead of having one or two guys trying to do it on their own."
After Centennial lost at Ironton 79-63 on Jan. 19, it lost consecutive league games to Columbus East (65-38 on Jan. 22), Northland (65-45 on Jan. 25) and Brookhaven (65-50 on Feb. 1) to drop out of contention for the City-North title.
The Stars were 9-6 overall and 8-3 in the City-North before playing Linden-McKinley on Feb. 5, while league-leading Northland is 12-0 in the City-North entering its game against Brookhaven on Friday, Feb. 8.
At Brookhaven, point guard Elias Osborne scored 13 points and forward Conrad Stephens had 12.
"Our number of turnovers has actually gone down the past few games, but against Brookhaven, we had a lot of offensive fouls called and couldn't get into a flow," coach Osborne said. "My son (Elias Osborne) had three fouls by the second quarter and (guard) Gyai Gyamerah had two fouls in the first quarter, so we had to make a lot of adjustments to our lineup with two starters not being able to play a whole lot. We needed to get the ball inside a lot more in this game, but Brookhaven coaxed us into shooting a lot of 3-pointers. We shot five 3-pointers in the first quarter and they might as well have been turnovers."
The Stars wrap up their league schedule by playing at Northland on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Northland defeated East 60-46 on Jan. 29 to extend their league winning streak to 101 games.
In the Vikings' win at Centennial, forward Armani Towns scored 22 points, forward Derrick McKeiten scored 16 and guard Ty Hairston added 13. The Stars were led by Osborne and guard Christian Cumberlander, who each scored 10 points.
Osborne averaged a team-high 19.1 points through 15 games, followed by Cumberlander (12.7), Stephens (10.7) and Gyamerah (10.6).
"Northland will be a big game and we're looking forward to playing them again," coach Osborne said. "Northland shares the ball and they have a number of kids who can shoot it. We zoned them up in the first quarter the last time we played them because we didn't think they could shoot as well as they can, and they knocked down a lot of 3s. "Obviously, we'll need to play tighter defense because we can't leave them open like we did last time. When we have the ball, we'll need to be more patient and take better shots."
Girls swim squad wins City title
The girls swimming and diving team scored 132 points to win the City League meet, which was held Feb. 2 at Columbus Aquatics Center, for a fourth consecutive season.
The Stars finished ahead of Whetstone (99), Northland (43), Eastmoor Academy (24) and Beechcroft (20).
Lexie Herron placed first in four events, winning both the 50-yard freestyle (27.08 seconds) and 100 free (1:00.46). She also combined with Julia Brooks, Sam Meanor and Glorianna Fleming to win the 200 medley relay (2:04.11) and teamed with Brooks, Meanor and Abbi Linville to win the 200 free relay (1:51.05).
Brooks won four events as well, as she also was part of the first-place 400 free relay (4:21.83) and placed first in the 100 backstroke (1:09.32).
Also placing first were Kaylyn Aebie in the 200 free (2:18.76), Emilija Erenpreiss in diving (161 points), Kaitlin Hedges in the 500 free (6:00.93) and Meanor in the 100 breaststroke (1:18.89).
"It was really difficult because we had giant targets on our backs, so we were really happy to win again," Herron said. "(Erenpreiss) got her highest score in diving to win, and that helped us a lot. Everyone contributed, because even when we didn't win, we still got second and third in those events."
Boys swim team is City runner-up
The boys swimming and diving team scored 91 points to finish second in the City meet behind Northland (103) and ahead of Whetstone (84), Eastmoor (13) and Beechcroft (8).
Placing first were Aaron Maharry in the 50 free (23.33), John Beyer in diving (107) and Mark Brownfield in the 500 free (6:10.22).
"Our boys didn't win but they swam well and they were happy to beat Whetstone," Herron said. "Mark edged out a Northland swimmer to win the 500 free and that was the most exciting moment of the meet."
The teams will compete in a Division II sectional Saturday, Feb. 9, at Upper Arlington.
There will be no automatic berths for the district meet Feb. 15, but 27 at-large district berths will be awarded for each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites. Divers do not compete until the district meet.
Last year, the girls finished second (318.5) in a five-team sectional at UA behind champion Grandview (349) and placed 13th (61) at district behind champion Granville (475) as 36 teams scored.
The boys finished second (168) in a five-team sectional at UA behind champion Grandview (383.5) and placed eighth (102) at district behind champion Granville (325.5) as 39 squads scored.