The Africentric Early College girls basketball team turned to its best player with the City League championship on the line Feb. 10 against Northland at Columbus South.
The Nubians, trailing by one point with 16 seconds remaining, got the ball to 6-foot-1 junior point guard Jordan Horston after a timeout. She drove to the basket through two defenders and banked in a shot off the glass.
Alexandria Hamilton, who scored 21 points to lead the Vikings, drove in toward the basket on the other end but was unable to convert as Africentric held on to win 44-43.
It was the Nubians’ 10th City championship.
“It’s something we practice all the time, me going to the rim,” Horston said. “It happened to be the game winner this time, so it was awesome.”
Africentric, which is ranked fourth in the Division III state poll and improved to 19-3, led throughout the second quarter and for the first half of the third before Northland’s Jeana Weatherspoon put her team ahead 28-27.
Africentric answered with an 8-0 run and led 38-33 heading into the fourth.
The Vikings, who dropped to 19-3 as they lost their third consecutive City final, got back to within 40-38 with 5:59 remaining on a 3-pointer by Charlea Henley.
Northland stayed close throughout despite the absence of coach Jaybee Bethea, who was in attendance behind the bench but was unable to officially coach the team because of what athletics director Mario Bowles described as a Columbus City Schools paperwork issue. Bethea is expected to return as coach for the Division I district tournament.
“In years past this game had been a blowout, but we just said every possession we’ve got to play smarter,” assistant coach Shanda Leavell said. “We stayed in the game and the girls played smart defense.”
Northland went ahead 43-42 with 45 seconds left on a basket by Hamilton.
That set up the game-winning opportunity for Horston, who finished with 14 points.
“We just said let’s get Jordan the ball face to face and actually give her an opportunity to get to the basket, and position people that she could dump it off to in case she get into a situation,” Africentric coach Will McKinney said. “We drew it up on the board and we were going to run our set.”