The Africentric Early College girls basketball team didn’t play like a team that hadn’t scouted Smithville before their meeting in a Division III state semifinal March 15 at Ohio State.
The Nubians caused 21 turnovers and created numerous easy baskets against a Smithies team that had a perfect record and was making its second state tournament appearance in three seasons en route to a 57-37 victory.
Africentric improved to 22-4 and will be looking for its third state championship when it plays Findlay Liberty-Benton or Anna in the state final at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at Ohio State. The Nubians won state titles in 2007 and 2009 and were state runners-up in 2008.
“I’m just glad they got me off the hook tonight,” Nubians coach Will McKinney said. “I hadn’t seen Smithville and I didn’t know anything about them, but my girls came through.”
Most of McKinney’s concerns were alleviated during the second quarter.
The Nubians led 11-6 after one period and led by as many as 10 points during the second quarter before taking a 27-19 lead into halftime. Senior guard Kiyanna Black, who finished with a team-high 16 points, scored Africentric’s final seven points of the first half.
In the third period, the Nubians forced seven turnovers and outscored the Smithies 16-8 while building a 19-point lead.
Sophomore guard Darianne Seward had nine of her 13 points during the second half for Africentric.
Smithville, which finished 26-1, got 17 points from Tara Schaffter and four points and eight rebounds from Kylie Frizell.
“I saw them on film and we knew they were a team that penetrates a lot and is excellent in transition,” Smithville coach Mike Miller said. “I didn’t think we did a good job in the first half of closing the gaps. They’re quicker and more athletic, and we needed to get ahead of them early.”
“It’s great (to be going to the state final),” Black said. “I just took it as a regular game. I took a few rushed shots, but I was kind of calm for the most part.”