That might not turn into a yearly trend.
That might not turn into a yearly trend.
The Africentric Early College and Eastmoor Academy teams both have several key players back after winning Division III and Division II district championships, respectively, a year ago.
The Nubians might have central Ohio's best returning player in senior forward Raven Ferguson, who recently signed to play for Ohio State after making first-team all-district, second-team all-state and ThisWeek Super 12 last season.
Warriors senior forward Chelsey Radcliff was first-team all-district, special mention all-state and also made the Super 12, and she should have a more experienced cast around her this season.
Both teams have won six consecutive district championships.
"It's going to be a good year," Nubians coach Will McKinney said. "(Eastmoor is) going to be a lot better than they were last year. I'm feeling really good about the way we're coming together. We've got a lot more versatility and we're much quicker than last year. This is probably my best team since 2007."
The 5-foot-11 Ferguson averaged 23 points, six rebounds, 3.5 assists and four steals as the Nubians finished 18-6 overall and 14-0 in the City-South. They had a string of 74 victories over City teams snapped when they lost to Brookhaven 46-41 in the City championship game.
Also back from the Africentric team that beat Marion Pleasant 57-26 in a district final before falling to Middletown Madison 56-53 in a regional semifinal are seniors Brittani Thomas, Chelsea Chambers and Brein Babbs.
Thomas averaged 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 steals last season and recently signed with Akron. Chambers has been a key player the last two seasons in the backcourt. Babbs missed most of last season with an injury but saw extensive action two years ago.
Senior Kaylyn Daniels is a 5-10 post player who also was a key player last season. Junior Kiyana Black sat out last season after transferring from Independence but also should contribute.
Freshmen guards Darianne Seward and Ayrielle Stith are others who figure to see action when the Nubians open Dec. 2 at Brookhaven, where Bearcats coach Reggie Lee will attempt to win his 500th career game.
Eastmoor has a trio of returning regulars to lean on in Radcliff, senior guard Brittney Boone and sophomore post player Tajanee Wells (5-10) after finishing 18-5 overall and 12-2 in the City-South.
Radcliff averaged 17 points and nine rebounds. Wells averaged 13 points and eight rebounds and made second-team all-district. Boone will be in her third season as a starter.
Other key players for Eastmoor should include senior post player Sade Lindsay (5-10), senior point guard Brooklyn Lockhart and senior Sierra Hamilton.
The Warriors finished second in the City-South, behind Africentric and ahead of Marion-Franklin and Walnut Ridge (8-6), Briggs (7-7), Independence (5-9), Columbus West (2-12) and Columbus South (0-14).
The Warriors open Dec. 7 against South.
"We've done OK so far," coach Jim Miranda said. "We're not extremely big, but I think we're more experienced and we're playing more aggressively. Chelsey and Tajanee are big girls inside, and Tajanee is a good outside shooter along with Brittney. So far we're progressing well."
•NORTH GIRLS NOTES - While Brookhaven and Northland are expected to be the favorites to win the City-North championship, East and Mifflin both are hoping to be improved.
East finished 15-6 overall and third at 10-4 in the City-North behind the Bearcats and Vikings, who both went 13-1 in league play. Mifflin was 9-11 overall and tied Beechcroft for fourth in the City-North at 7-7, ahead of Centennial (4-10), Whetstone (2-12) and Linden-McKinley (0-14).
Although first-team all-district post player Angel Cooler is graduating early and won't be playing for East this winter, the Tigers return two starters in junior guard Laquisha Hinton (8.3 ppg, 5.6 steals) and 5-10 sophomore Arianna Gilliam (5.5 ppg, 2.4 rebounds). Alana Lassiter is a 6-1 junior who averaged 12 points and eight rebounds for Springfield Kenton Ridge last season, and junior guard Whitney McKoy averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 assists for Reynoldsburg a year ago.
Also joining the program is 6-0 sophomore post player Jade' Gattis, who transferred from Westerville North to play for her father, coach Darris Gattis.
Other key players should include senior Johnetta Allen, juniors Domniqa Allen, T-Keyah Morris and Janekqua Thornton and sophomore Elam Teferi.
"Our team has added major speed in McKoy and (Jade') Gattis and size in Lassiter," said coach Gattis, who enters his 14th season. "We lost Yasmynn Harris, Nadyia Chavis and Angel Cooler (to graduation), but we've added Alana Lassiter, a combo wing/post (player) who is one of the top juniors in the state of Ohio."
Former Northland assistant Allen Jarrett is the new coach at Mifflin after Troy Taylor stepped down following his 14th season. Although the Punchers struggled last season, they won more than 200 games as well as six district and two City titles during Taylor's tenure.
The Punchers' top returnee is 6-0 senior post player Shanevian Holden. Other key players are expected to include seniors Shaniqua Davis and Alexis Nelson and juniors Markie Dudley, De'Ottia Robinson, Tori Ruffin and Dee Dee Young.
"It's been going pretty smooth," Jarrett said. "We've been competitive in our scrimmages and playing pretty well. We've got to work on boxing out."
•TRAYLOR CHOOSES BADGERS - Walnut Ridge senior tight end/defensive end Austin Traylor verbally committed to play for Wisconsin on Nov. 18, according to Scots coach Byron Mattox.
Traylor, 6-4, 211 pounds, chose the Badgers from a list of 21 offers that also included Arizona, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State and West Virginia. He finished this season with 31 catches for 639 yards (20.6 average) and scored five touchdowns on offense.
Defensively, Traylor started most of the season at end but also saw time at strong safety. He finished with 16 tackles for losses and 10 sacks for the Scots, who finished with an 8-2 record.