The last time Eastmoor Academy won the City League championship in boys basketball, it was known as Eastmoor High School and it beat a Beechcroft team whose coach would go on to win a state championship more than a decade later.

In 1994, the Warriors defeated the Cougars 61-50 in the City title game at Capital University.

The same matchup will take place 24 years later, with Beechcroft to face Eastmoor at noon Saturday, Feb. 17, at Africentric.

The Cougars were coached in 1994 by Satch Sullinger, who would lead Northland to the Division I state title in 2009.

Beechcroft put together the breakthrough season it has been longing for this winter under sixth-year coach Humphrey Simmons, whose team went 14-0 in the City League-North Division and improved to 19-1 overall with a 61-60 win over Dayton Belmont on Feb. 10.

"I like how we play together," said Beechcroft senior Jelani Simmons, the coach's son. "We just have fun."

Eastmoor is 17-4 overall and went 13-1 in the City-South to win its first league title since winning three in a row from 2007-09, but the Warriors lost the City title game each of those seasons.

Jim Miranda, who led the Eastmoor girls to City runner-up finishes in 2004 and '05, has the boys team in the City final for the first time in his six seasons as coach.

Two of the top candidates for Division II district Player of the Year are Simmons, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, and Eastmoor's Taevion Kinsey, a 6-4 senior guard. Both are averaging 19.5 points.

"(Beechcroft is) a tough, athletic team," Miranda said. "They're not overly big all around, but they play physical and hustle.

"We just want to continue to improve. We're working on some different concepts, some zone-man concepts. We're working on knocking down shots. That's going to be a key."

Simmons is one of five Beechcroft players averaging in double figures. The others are senior guards Datrey Long (16.5) and Teon Jennings (11.0) and senior forwards Ther'Ron Jennings (14.0) and Elijah Bishop (10.5).

"My five seniors have known each other since middle school," coach Simmons said. "It's like a big family. Datrey Long is like our X factor. He's very athletic, and Elijah Bishop just grew to be about 6-6 and can play the (guard, forward or in the post). They all bring something different to the table."

Other key players for Eastmoor include seniors Randy Olverson (guard), Tim Smith (wing player), Stanley Williams (post player) and Tariq Brown (wing player).

Olverson, who transferred from Gahanna during the offseason, is averaging nine points, while Smith, Williams and Brown all are averaging between seven and nine points.

Still, much of what Eastmoor does centers around Kinsey.

"You look at the kind of athlete he is, he sometimes can be too unselfish," Miranda said. "Sometimes you kind of want him to take games over, but he's always trying to get everybody involved. He's a talented kid and can jump out of the gym and get rebounds."

Nubians girls edge Vikings for City title

Both the Africentric and Northland girls basketball teams figure to be heavily favored when they begin the postseason after playing a tightly contested City championship game Feb. 10 at South.

The Nubians got 14 points from Jordan Horston, eight from Maliya Johnson and six apiece from Alexia Smith, Sakima Walker and Antoinette Williams while edging the Vikings 44-43.

Horston put Africentric ahead when she scored with 14 seconds left and Northland's Alexandria Hamilton missed a shot at the other end with six seconds left as the Nubians held on.

"It was a great game," Nubians coach Will McKinney said. "I start two sophomores, a freshman and two juniors. Youth is youth, and sometimes you figure you can turn it on and turn it off, and tonight we turned it on at the exact time we needed to turn it on.

"Northland did a great job of ball pressure and did a fantastic job of making buckets when they needed to. We didn't capitalize and we had a game of unforced errors ourselves. We've had a rough go the past few games and hopefully we can figure it out."

The Nubians, who won their 10th City title in 15 seasons under McKinney, are 19-3 overall and finished 14-0 in the City-South.

Africentric is seeded first in the Division III district tournament and opens the postseason Tuesday, Feb. 20, at home against 23rd-seeded Columbus School for Girls, with the winner to play host to 24th-seeded Madison Plains in the second round.

The highest seed in Africentric's bracket is No. 8 Centerburg, but the Nubians wouldn't play the Trojans until a district final.

Hamilton scored 15 of her team's first 16 points and finished with 21 points to lead the Vikings, who dropped to 19-3 overall.

Northland stayed close throughout despite the absence of coach Jaybee Bethea, who was unable to coach the team because of what athletics director Mario Bowles described as a Columbus City Schools paperwork issue. Bethea is expected to return as coach for the Division I district tournament, where the Vikings are the sixth seed.

It was the third consecutive season in which Northland lost the City title game, but it was much closer than last season when the Vikings lost to the Nubians 74-41.

"They can hang their heads high heading into the tournament," Northland assistant coach Shanda Leavell said.

The Vikings open the Division I district tournament Saturday, Feb. 17, at home against 42nd-seeded Walnut Ridge in the first round. The winner plays 18th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Feb. 23 at the home of the higher seed.

Northland is the second-highest seed in its bracket behind No. 1 Newark, which it wouldn't meet unless both teams are competing for a district title.

Cougars, Vikings set to bowl at sectionals

The Northland and Beechcroft boys and girls bowling teams are preparing to compete in the postseason.

The Beechcroft girls will compete in the Division II sectional Saturday, Feb. 17, at HP Lanes, where the top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Feb. 22 at HP Lanes.

The Cougars were 1-13 overall and 0-11 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-A Division before competing against New Albany on Feb. 13 but have one of the area's top competitors in senior Heather Lyons, who had a 167.9 game average through 14 matches and was a state qualifier last season.

"As far as the Central District, she's got as good of a chance as anybody," coach Matt Bell said. "We sure hope she gets to bowl the next three weeks."

The Northland boys were 11-0 overall before competing against Hilliard Darby on Feb. 14 and won the COHSBC-C at 10-0. Senior Cameron Singer was averaging 201.2 and senior Payton Lewis was averaging 184.5 through 11 matches to lead the Vikings.

Although the Beechcroft boys were just 3-11 overall and 2-9 in the COHSBC-A before competing against New Albany on Feb. 13, coach Joe Begeny has been pleased with his team's progress.

Through 14 matches, senior Derek May was averaging 208.8 and junior Reece Collins was averaging 205.5.

"We're in a different (COHSBC division) this year, but we're bowling well," Begeny said.

"We'll play whoever's on our schedule, but we're playing against teams like Westerville Central."

The Beechcroft and Northland boys will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 23 and the Northland girls will compete in the Division I sectional Feb. 24. Both sectionals are at HP Lanes.

The Northland girls were 7-3 overall before competing against Darby on Feb. 14 and finished 6-3 in the COHSBC-C to tie Briggs for third place. Seniors Shai'ekia Jackson (137.6) and Oajah Alcorn (136.3) led the Vikings in average through 10 matches.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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