A scheduled late start to the season turned into a rousing success for the Centennial High School boys basketball team.

A scheduled late start to the season turned into a rousing success for the Centennial High School boys basketball team.

The Stars were 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the City League-North Division before playing Linden-McKinley on Dec. 15.

Centennial didn't open until Dec. 8, a week after most teams in the area. The Stars beat Beechcroft 74-61 in the opener then routed Columbus International 90-54 on Dec. 11 and rallied to beat host Grove City 59-56 on Dec. 12.

"We started later than everyone else and when we played Beechcroft, it was their third game of the season," coach Roosevelt Osborne III said. "It was good for us because we don't have nearly as much experience as we did last year. I think you could see that in the way we played.

"We absolutely did not handle the ball well. We really need to improve our fundamentals. Our ball-handling was atrocious. We fumbled passes, threw bounces passes off teammates' feet and rushed everything we did."

The Stars fell behind by 12 points in the first quarter, but led by five two minutes into the second quarter.

"We had 31 total turnovers and still scored 74 points, so you know we can score the ball," Osborne said. "Imagine what we can do when we're efficient. We've got 10 players I wouldn't hesitate on putting in the game at any time because of their skill level. We've just got to be more in control and not commit unforced turnovers."

Junior point guard Jevante Triblett had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists in his first varsity start. Senior guards Gimmy Martinez and Shaun Fullen both added 11 points.

Against International, sophomore forward Craig Burt had 20 points, senior guard Jeremiah Fair-Harris scored 12 and sophomore forward Gary Elder added 11.

The Stars used a 23-11 fourth-quarter scoring advantage to beat Grove City, as Martinez scored 21, Burt scored 13, Fair-Harris had 10 and senior guard Jaylon Smith added eight.

Centennial will test itself with non-league games Saturday, Dec. 19, at Upper Arlington, Monday, Dec. 21, at Pickerington North and Tuesday, Dec. 22, against visiting Groveport.

"We enjoy playing some of the stronger teams outside of the City League," said Osborne, whose team also faces non-league foes Thomas Worthington, Worthington Kilbourne and Briggs during the 2016 portion of the schedule. "We figure we can find out a lot about ourselves when we step outside of our comfort zone to play some of these teams. It's a good measuring stick.

"I think we have a lot of potential and I'm curious to see how we do with the challenges we face within our league and outside of the league."

Girls basketball team

still seeking identity

The girls basketball team was 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the City-North before playing Linden on Dec. 15.

The Stars will play host to Columbus East on Friday, Dec. 18, before being off until competing in the Cincinnati Princeton Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28 and 29.

Centennial opened 3-0 before losing three of its next four contests, including 50-33 at Watterson on Dec. 10.

"We started well against Watterson (and led 17-8 after the first quarter), but really struggled from there to put the ball in the hoop," coach Darrin Green said. "Once (Watterson) caught us and took the lead, they went to zone defenses, including a diamond-and-one on DeAuja (Thompson). They shut her down and tried to make others beat them. But nobody else could put the ball in the hole that night."

The Stars had dropped consecutive games to Northland (68-65 on Dec. 4) and Cleveland East Tech (64-53 on Dec. 5) before beating Beechcroft 84-32 on Dec. 10.

Centennial bounced back from the Watterson loss to roll over Columbus International 75-22 on Dec. 11.

"We need to regroup and find an identity," Green said. "We need to find out what works best with certain personnel. I think DeAuja and Akiya Brown have played very well, although DeAuja needs to stay out of foul trouble. ...

"Akiya is a good finisher and attacker who can also make the outside shot. She can rebound well at times and we're going to ask her for a little more now."

Thompson was averaging 16.6 points through seven games and Brown was averaging 11.6.

Echols takes second

for wrestling squad

Competing in its first tournament of the season, the wrestling team finished ninth (60) behind champion Galion Northmor (244.5) in the nine-team Big Walnut Classic on Dec. 12.

Junior Darius Echols went 4-1 at 220 pounds to finish second, losing to Galion's Nick McDaniel 8-4 in the final.

Senior Chaz Hicks was fifth at 195. Also placing were senior Devon Cranford (132, sixth) and junior Alfath Ahmed (138, sixth). Junior Adam Tawfik (152) and sophomore Darien Evans (160) both were eighth.

Centennial won't compete again until Jan. 9 in the Kevin Michael Invitational at Columbus Academy.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com