After winning its first district championship since 1986 two seasons ago, the South High School boys basketball team proved the run wasn't a fluke last season by winning 19 games for a second consecutive season and receiving a Division II district runner-up trophy.

After winning its first district championship since 1986 two seasons ago, the South High School boys basketball team proved the run wasn't a fluke last season by winning 19 games for a second consecutive season and receiving a Division II district runner-up trophy.

The success the Bulldogs are having again this season further cements that they have one of the best programs in the City League as well as central Ohio.

Despite losing five key players to graduation, including first-team all-district guard Tamal Watkins, South was 12-0 overall and 6-0 in the City-South Division before playing West on Jan. 17.

Watkins now plays for Shawnee State University.

"Our (junior varsity) was pretty good the last two years," coach Ramon Spears said. "They lost one game in two years, so this is pretty much their team. We had a few leftover seniors, so they're kind of bonding and are good to go."

Watkins' brother, sophomore guard Treohn Watkins, has been a big reason for the Bulldogs' continued success. He scored 34 points in a 75-71 win over Lancaster on Dec. 30 and 27 in a 65-45 victory over Linden-McKinley on Dec. 22 and was averaging 16.2 points through 11 games.

Senior wing player/guard Bruelle Thompson and senior wing player Dez Watkins were averaging 10 and nine points, respectively.

"We go hard in practice and we practice how we play," Treohn Watkins said. "It all starts with practice. We're all pretty close because our j.v. from last year is mainly our varsity this year. This is what we expected. We didn't come into the season thinking we'd lose games. We want to win everything."

South, which hasn't competed in the City championship game since 1988, broke a first-place tie with Eastmoor Academy in the City-South by defeating the Warriors 63-48 on Jan. 13. Eastmoor was second in the league at 5-1.

Walnut Ridge, which has won the City-South title five of the last six seasons, including the last three, was just 2-4 in the league before playing Marion-Franklin on Jan. 17.

South opens the second round of its City-South schedule Friday, Jan. 20, at home against the Scots. The Bulldogs beat Walnut Ridge 53-50 on Dec. 13.

"We've got a lot of young talent and they're buying into the team and the program," Spears said.

Zink named Bruins
football coach

Sean Zink believes he's ready to take another shot at a head coaching job in football.

He was Africentric's coach in 2014 but stepped down after that season.

On Jan. 5, he became Briggs' coach.

"They haven't had a winning season since 2010 when they went 6-4," Zink said. "Nothing happens overnight. We need to focus on developing a program from the ground up. We're going to try to get the right people on board. Once you build community and family, the rest can come together."

Zink, who teaches social studies at Africentric, is a 1993 Licking Heights graduate who assisted at his alma mater from 2001-06 and then was the seventh-grade coach at Dublin Grizzell Middle School in 2007 before serving as an assistant at Dublin Jerome from 2008-11.

Last fall, Zink was back at Licking Heights as an assistant, helping the Hornets go 8-3 and reach the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.

Zink, who also has been the wrestling coach at Sells Middle School in Dublin since 2007, takes over a Briggs program that finished 2-8 last fall.

The Bruins went 10-20 in three seasons under Larry Willoughby, who stepped down at the end of last season.

In Zink's only season as Africentric's coach, the Nubians snapped a 23-game losing streak with a 42-0 win over Worthington Christian in week 3 of the regular season but finished 1-9.

"I wanted to get back in the saddle and have an opportunity to be a head coach again," Zink said.

Vikings, Cougars
bowlers faring well

The Beechcroft boys bowling team survived what might have been its toughest tests to date when it beat St. Charles 2,346-2,146 on Jan. 10 and edged Watterson 2,199-2,192 on Jan. 12.

The Cougars, who also defeated Columbus Academy (1,804) on Jan. 12, were 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the Central Ohio High School Bowling Conference-Central Division before competing against Mifflin on Jan. 17 and Grandview on Jan. 18.

In addition, Beechcroft is hoping it can be one of the representatives in the City League championship match at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 at a site to be announced.

The Cougars scored better than 2,000 in each of their first eight matches and, through six matches, senior Erik Redder was leading the COHSBC with a 222.8 game average and junior Derrick May was 14th (205.4).

Other key bowlers have included seniors Demetrius Latham (177.5) and Thomas Zigarevich (154.8) and sophomore Reece Collins (174.8).

"This team is loaded," coach Joe Begeny said. "Redder almost had a 300 game (287 on Jan. 5 against Whetstone). This is really the third year for everybody and we've got a new (junior varsity) team this year, so we're trying to build a program."

The Northland boys team was 4-7 overall and 2-7 in the COHSBC-Central before competing against Academy on Jan. 17.

Junior Cameron Singer was leading the Vikings with a 208.1 average through nine matches to rank eighth in the COHSBC. Other key bowlers have included juniors Daniel Orgen and Jarred Taylor and freshmen Rasi Bailey and Aaron Holley.

"We're having some growing pains, but they're all very coachable," Vikings coach Robert Pea said.

In girls bowling, Northland was 7-3 overall and 5-3 in the COHSBC-Central before competing against Academy on Jan. 17 and Beechcroft was 2-5 overall and 2-4 in the COHSBC-Central before competing against Mifflin on Jan. 17 and Grandview on Jan. 18.

Senior Skyler Babcock was leading Northland with a 148.5 average through seven matches, followed by senior Teneya Hale (144.6), juniors Bryanna Osbourne (140.7) and Shaiekia Jackson (139.0) and senior A'kayla Watson (134.9).

"We're moving up," Vikings coach Peggy Holley said. "We're learning to jell as a team. We haven't been to (the City championship match) in a couple years, so that's our goal to get there."

Junior Heather Lyons was leading Beechcroft with a 178.8 average through five matches.

Other key bowlers have included seniors Dominique Davis and Kiara Poole, junior Shelby Sorice and sophomore Noel Tinnes.

Nubian Classic
to feature five games

The Africentric girls basketball team will play host to the Nubian Classic, a five-game showcase, on Saturday, Jan. 21.

The opening game will pit South against Springfield at noon, followed by Independence against Canal Winchester at 2 p.m., Eastmoor against Licking Heights at 4 p.m., Northland against Westerville South at 6 p.m. and the host Nubians against Cleveland East Tech at 8 p.m.

Africentric beat Walnut Ridge 79-33 on Jan. 13 but lost to host Berlin Hiland 67-61 in overtime Jan. 14 in The Classic in the Country and was 11-2 overall and 8-0 in the City-South before playing Independence on Jan. 17.

East Tech won nine of its first 12 games.

On Jan. 7, Africentric lost to Huber Heights Wayne 59-55 in overtime. The Nubians rallied from a four-point deficit with one minute left in regulation to force overtime.

Wayne was a Division I regional semifinalist last season and won eight of its first 11 games, with two of its losses coming to out-of-state teams.

The Nubians bounced back to beat Eastmoor 75-39 on Jan. 10.

According to coach Will McKinney, sophomore guard Jordan Horston and senior guard Chyna Chambers have been leading the way.

"I like where we're at," McKinney said. "I see that we've got some fight in us. If we do the little things right for 32 minutes, we're tough to beat."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek