Because his program has won 13 district championships in its 15-year history, Africentric Early College girls basketball coach Will McKinney sometimes finds himself reminding others that not every team is loaded with seniors.
In fact, there are just two seniors on the current roster, and the Nubians' top two players are junior guard Jordan Horston and sophomore guard Alexia Smith.
"People don't realize what a young team I have, so any experience they can get is a good thing," McKinney said.
Top-seeded Africentric defeated 17th-seeded Johnstown 54-8 in a Division III district semifinal Feb. 27 and then beat ninth-seeded Ready 63-23 in a district final March 2 at Ohio Dominican to improve to 23-3.
The Nubians played Minford in a regional semifinal March 7 at Logan.
Against Ready, Horston had 16 points and Smith scored 10 as Africentric led 36-12 at halftime and outscored the Silver Knights 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
"This one feels great in this environment we're in, like sisters working hard in the gym every day," Smith said. "It's just a happy feeling being out here."
The regional semifinal winner plays Berlin Hiland or Proctorville Fairland in the regional final at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Logan. The regional champion faces Amanda-Clearcreek, Collins Western Reserve, Findlay Liberty-Benton or Ottawa-Glandorf in a state semifinal March 15 at Ohio State.
"(Ready) kind of packed it in and played a little 2-3 zone," McKinney said. "I liked what I saw. I'm glad we played everybody. That's always a good thing.
"It's been a great ride. We've won 13 (district titles), eight regionals, five states. It's been unbelievable, to be honest."
In the Division I district tournament, 10th-seeded Eastmoor Academy lost to 23rd-seeded Olentangy Liberty 55-51 in overtime and sixth-seeded Northland lost to seventh-seeded Upper Arlington 69-54 in semifinals Feb. 28.
Northland, which was the City League runner-up, finished 21-4, while the Warriors finished 16-7.
In Division II, third-seeded Independence lost to 11th-seeded Lakewood 42-30 and ninth-seeded Linden-McKinley fell to second-seeded Caledonia River Valley 58-45 in district semifinals Feb. 27.
Boys teams move to district semi round
The only City League boys basketball program to reach a Division I district semifinal was Northland.
The 23rd-seeded Vikings won 56-44 at 14th-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a second-round game March 2 to improve to 13-8 and advanced to play second-seeded Upper Arlington on March 7.
The UA-Northland winner plays fifth-seeded Newark or sixth-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district final at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Ohio Dominican. The district champion plays Gahanna, Pickerington Central, Westerville North or Canal Winchester in a regional semifinal March 15 at Ohio Dominican.
Jejuan Weatherspoon and William Mfum both scored 17 points against Liberty.
"We had some lapses and gave them too many open looks, but I thought we shared the ball a lot more as the game went on and we played hard," coach Sean Taylor said.
Northland lost to UA each of the past two seasons in the district tournament, including last year in a district semifinal.
Also in Division I second-round games March 2, 22nd-seeded Walnut Ridge lost to ninth-seeded Pickerington Central 66-50, 34th-seeded West lost to top-seeded Pickerington North 71-27, 29th-seeded Mifflin lost to 30th-seeded Canal Winchester 55-47 and 41st-seeded Briggs lost to seventh-seeded Gahanna 86-49.
In the Division II district tournament, top-seeded Beechcroft beat 22nd-seeded Marion-Franklin 88-44, second-seeded Eastmoor beat 19th-seeded Lakewood 72-31, third-seeded South defeated 20th-seeded River Valley 77-36 and 10th-seeded East beat seventh-seeded Independence 83-72 in second-round games March 3.
Beechcroft played 15th-seeded Bloom-Carroll and East faced fourth-seeded Hartley in district semifinals March 6, with the winners to meet in a district final at 1 p.m. March 10 at Africentric. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 15 at Bowling Green.
South played ninth-seeded Watterson and Eastmoor faced 13th-seeded DeSales in district semifinals March 6, with the winners to meet in a district final at 4 p.m. March 10 at Africentric. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 15 at Kettering Fairmont.
Also on March 3, second-seeded Africentric beat 22nd-seeded East Knox 77-25 in a second-round Division III game.
The Nubians played fifth-seeded Galion Northmor in a district semifinal March 6, with the winner to play fourth-seeded Wellington or ninth-seeded Johnstown in a district final at 6 p.m. Friday, March 9, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, at Bowling Green. The regional final is March 17 at the same site.
Three City bowlers reach state tourney
Three City League bowlers will compete in the Division I state tournament this weekend at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
On Friday, March 9, Northland senior Cameron Singer will participate in the boys tournament. He won the district championship March 3 at HP Lanes with a 656 three-game series.
Northland finished sixth (3,427) in the 16-team district tournament behind champion Westerville Central (3,907) as the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to state. Marion Harding (3,645) and Whitehall (3,580) also advanced.
"I just threw the ball really well and executed my shots," Singer said. "I only missed one makeable spare."
Competing in the girls state tournament Saturday, March 10, will be Briggs sophomore Dakota Fink and Eastmoor senior Averi Brown, who finished second (574) and third (564), respectively, at district.
Others competing individually in the boys district tournament were Independence's Jaikel Gray (sixth, 582) and Matthew Santurello (23rd, 539), Walnut Ridge's Tahlil Johnson (tied for 10th, 570), Beechcroft's Derek May (16th, 562) and Andrew Zigarevich (70th, 393) and Eastmoor's Andrew Ladd (56th, 465).
Also competing individually in the girls district tournament were Mifflin's Bailey Williams (14th, 500) and Kendra Allen (tied for 52nd, 414), Northland's Shai'ekia Jackson (61st, 400) and Eastmoor's Ariana Woods (76th, 345).
Shaw brothers make state in wrestling
The West wrestling program will have a competitor in the Division I state tournament for the first time since 2013 in senior twin brothers Matthew Shaw (220 pounds) and Dawson Shaw (heavyweight).
The state tournament runs Thursday, March 8, through Saturday, March 10, at Ohio State.
According to coach Felix Catheline, the Cowboys haven't had a state placer since 1941.
Dawson Shaw placed third and Matthew Shaw was fourth in the district tournament March 2 and 3 at Hilliard Darby as the top four finishers in each weight class advanced to state.
"It was an emotional roller coaster filled with adrenaline and anxiety," Catheline said. "Dawson was one point away from being district champ and gave Jacob Cover from Hilliard Darby, in my opinion a solid pick for state champ, a great match. To bounce back after that and take third was awesome. Matthew is the toughest and hardest-working kid I have ever coached."
Marion-Franklin's Jalin Goodman (113) placed sixth in the Division II district tournament March 2 and 3 at Uhrichsville Claymont.