An experienced but undersized Centennial High School boys basketball team won just nine regular-season games, but earned a Division II district runner-up finish in 2006.

An experienced but undersized Centennial High School boys basketball team won just nine regular-season games, but earned a Division II district runner-up finish in 2006.

The Stars hope a similar formula presents itself this season.

After going 6-15 overall and placing fifth at 4-10 in the City League-North Division a season ago, Centennial downed perennial league-power Beechcroft 65-62 on Dec. 15 in the opening night of conference play.

Before losing to DeSales 64-54 in a 2006 district final -- its first appearance at that level since winning back-to-back district championships in 1980 and '81 -- the Stars knocked off then No. 1-seeded Beechcroft 64-60 in a district semifinal.

"We didn't have the best record last year, but we competed," said Roosevelt Osborne, who is in his eighth season as coach. "We're still full of guards, but they're tall and speedy guards. We had a very successful summer, and even in our scrimmages we did well."

Seniors Bucky Chenault and Dezmon Pack (6-foot-1) are back at guard and juniors Isaiah Osborne (6-2) and Wesley Russell (6-3) are other returning starters. Senior Diallo Ford also is a key player after missing last year with a shoulder injury.

In the win over Beechcroft, Chenault made two 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and Russell added 13 points.

Pack was the leading scorer with 20 points in a 72-50 win over New Lexington on Dec. 4.

The Stars play Monday through Wednesday in the Big Red Shootout at Clay County (Ky.).

"If we're able to defend the other teams, we're so fast this year," Osborne said. "All of these guys can shoot the 3 or take it to the basket."

•ALSO OVER THE HOLIDAYS -- The sixth-annual Braggin' Rights Classic, which also had girls basketball games last Monday and last Tuesday, will conclude with games Monday and Tuesday at Harvest Prep.

City League teams scheduled to compete Monday are Brookhaven (11:30 a.m.), Walnut Ridge (noon), Northland (1:15 p.m.), Marion-Franklin (1:45 p.m.) and Africentric (8:15 p.m.), while competing Tuesday are Independence (noon), Africentric (3 p.m.), Marion-Franklin (3:30 p.m.) and Northland (4:45 p.m.).

The Whetstone boys and girls teams are playing in the Gilead Christian Holiday Tournament (Monday-Tuesday), the Columbus East boys are competing in the Youth Sports Foundation Holiday Invitational (Tuesday at Dublin Scioto, Dec. 31 at Gahanna) and the Brookhaven girls are playing in the Quaker Steak & Lube Holiday Shootout (Wednesday at Massillon Jackson).

•EAST GIRLS STEPPING UP -- Columbus East appears to have one of its strongest girls basketball teams in years.

The Tigers opened by winning five of their first six games, including blowing out perennial Division II district-title contender Mifflin 50-26 on Dec. 15.

Senior Yasmynn Harris (6-0) is a senior post player averaging 14 points and junior post player Angel Cooler (6-4) is averaging 19 points. Both also average more than a dozen rebounds.

Senior point guard Nadyia Chavis and sophomore guard Laquisha Hinton are returning starters, while seniors Ciera Scott (5-10 forward) and Paige Swanson, and freshmen Arianna Gilliam (5-10) and Elam Teferi are other key players.

In the win over Mifflin, Cooler finished with 16 points and Chavis added 14. The Tigers outscored the Punchers 23-9 during the middle quarters.

Their only loss during the season's first two weeks came Dec. 8 when they fell to Brookhaven 62-37.

"We're playing pretty good basketball," said Darris Gattis, who is in his 13th season as coach. "We lost to Brookhaven by 20, and it was a tough game for us. Harris is kind of our key, and when she went out with foul trouble, it was kind of like a balloon popped. It really changed the game, which was disappointing."

•DEVILS QB COMMITS -- Marion-Franklin High School senior quarterback Verlon Reed became the first City Leaguer in more than a decade to commit to a Division I college as a quarterback when he verbally agreed to become a member of Ohio State's 2010 recruiting class on Dec. 16. The last quarterback to do so was Beechcroft graduate James "Butchie" Washington when he signed with Akron in 1997.

Reed helped the Red Devils finish 11-3 overall and advance to a Division II state semifinal, where they lost to Cincinnati Winton Woods (69-35 on Nov. 27).

The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder passed for 1,548 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 1,395 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also started at safety and was the team's punter.

Reed joins a recruiting class that also includes Wheaton, Ill., quarterback Taylor Graham, who is the son of former OSU quarterback Kent Graham.

He chose Ohio State over a group of schools that also included Syracuse.