Over the past 10 seasons, the Northland High School girls basketball team has won one City League championship and represented the City League-North Division in the league final eight times, including last winter.
The Vikings lost a 1,000-point scorer in Jeana Weatherspoon, who is now playing for Alderson Broaddus University, as well as Charlea Henley, who joined Weatherspoon as a first-team all-league honoree and is now is playing for Ohio Dominican, to graduation.
Despite those losses, sixth-year Beechcroft coach Mike Moncrief believes Northland remains the team to beat in the league.
"The biggest thing this year is that the North runs through Northland," Moncrief said.
Last season, Northland won the City-North at 14-0, three games ahead of runner-up Linden-McKinley (11-3). Whetstone (9-5) was third, followed by Beechcroft and Mifflin (both 7-7), Centennial and East (both 4-10) and International (0-14).
The Vikings lost to Africentric 44-43 in the City championship game and were seeded sixth for the Division I district tournament but lost to seventh-seeded Upper Arlington 69-54 in a district semifinal to finish 21-4 overall.
Returning to lead Northland is 5-foot-6 senior guard Alexandria Hamilton, a St. Francis University signee who averaged 13.5 points last season.
Seniors Jaylen Muldrow (5-6, guard) and Sarai Swann (5-7, guard) were honorable mention all-league. Also back are senior Iyauna Bonner (5-2, guard) and sophomore Azariah Binford (5-1, guard).
Second-year Northland coach Jaybee Bethea also is excited about the potential of freshmen Nadia Alcorn (5-8, forward), Brianna Hamilton (5-9, forward) and Tierra Vance (5-8, forward).
The Vikings opened Nov. 24 with a 57-49 loss at Cincinnati Walnut Hills.
"To be honest, we've been looking pretty good," Bethea said. "We're looking better than I thought we would. Once we get healthy, we'll really know. Brianna Hamilton should be back in early December.
"I definitely hope we finish with a better record than last year when we were 21-4. We've got a tough non-league schedule. We've got 22 regular-season games, which I look at as 22 scrimmages before the season starts in February."
Beechcroft, which opened Nov. 27 against Johnstown, went 12-9 overall last season, losing to sixth-seeded Buckeye Valley 57-20 as the No. 10 seed in the second round of the Division II district tournament.
The top returnees for the Cougars are 5-11 senior forward Grace Gales, who was second-team all-league a year ago, and 5-4 senior guard Shailin Hasty, who was honorable mention all-league. Sophomore La'Briar Franklin-Paige, a 5-4 guard, was the team's leading scorer last season, averaging 11 points.
"We return a nucleus that's really good," Moncrief said. "We played very well against Eastmoor Academy at the City League (preseason preview) and Eastmoor moved down to Division II and will be really good. We have a little depth at the guard position with a lot of experience."
Seniors Aniah Brown (5-5, guard) and Dajai Thomas (5-8, forward), juniors Syrai Armstead (5-5, guard) and Brittany Fortner (guard) and freshman Lalarra Bays (guard) are others who should contribute.
Senior Liza Farley, who also was second-team all-league, and senior Mikayla Swann are not back with the team.
Nubians girls team seeking more titles
The hype surrounding the Africentric girls basketball team rarely has reached the level it could hit this season.
After winning their sixth state championship by beating Versailles 53-47 in the Division III state final a year ago to finish 27-3 overall, the Nubians return nearly all of their key players.
Africentric was ranked sixth in the USA Today preseason national rankings and eighth in the MaxPreps.com Xcellent 25 preseason national rankings.
"This is definitely one of the better teams that I've had, and the crazy thing about it is we're kind of young," 16th-year coach Will McKinney said. "I've only got two seniors. My first couple (players) off the bench are sophomores, so from that standpoint, we definitely have a good start. A lot of these kids were young last year and they got the experience of winning the state championship and winning the regional championship, which helped them grow up."
Africentric opened Nov. 24 with a 60-55 win over Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in The Journey to the Tourney at West Chester Lakota West. Mount Notre Dame was a Division I regional semifinalist last season.
The Nubians open City-South play Tuesday, Dec. 4, at South. Last season, they went 14-0 in the league as Eastmoor (12-2), Independence (10-4) and South (8-6) rounded out the top four.
Africentric's top returnee is 6-1 senior point guard Jordan Horston, a Tennessee commit who averaged 16 points and was named district Player of the Year and state co-Player of the Year.
Senior Tearra Cook (5-9, wing player) has committed to Southern Arkansas, while juniors Alexia Smith (5-8, guard), Nyam Thornton (5-8, guard) and Sakima Walker (6-4, post player) and sophomores Charjae Brock (5-8, guard), Maliyah Johnson (5-10, forward) and Arianna Smith (6-0, forward) all have scholarship offers from Division I colleges.
In addition to beating defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central in a preseason scrimmage, the Nubians will play Dublin Coffman on Dec. 28, Westerville South on Jan. 26 in the Nubian Classic at home and Newark on Jan. 30. Last season, Newark and South won Division I district titles and Coffman was a Division I district runner-up.
"We're looking OK, but we're not what we're going to be down the road, which I'm happy about, because we're not going to peak too early," McKinney said.
Warriors girls team has strong nucleus
After losing to 23rd-seeded Olentangy Liberty 55-51 in a Division I district semifinal as the No. 10 seed last season to finish 16-7 overall, the Eastmoor girls basketball team has moved back into more familiar territory in Division II.
The Warriors, who were Division II district runners-up in 2017, have a seven-member senior class led by 5-8 forward Mchale Grant, 5-5 guard Samaria Rodgers-Gossett, 5-8 guard Teresa Craig and 5-9 guard/forward Hailey Jordan. Grant and Rodgers-Gossett were first-team all-City-South a year ago, while Jordan was second-team all-league and Craig was honorable mention all-league.
Grant averaged 16 points and eight rebounds, Jordan averaged 12 points and six rebounds and Rodgers- Gossett averaged 10 points and five assists.
The other seniors are Kahlani Pack (5-9, forward), Elise Pryor (5-6, guard) and Mallory Barnes (6-0, center).
Junior Azure Lewis (forward), who transferred from Hartley, and freshman Music Thornton (guard) are newcomers who should contribute.
"We struggled last year in Division I," said fifth-year coach Charity Martin-King, whose team opened Nov. 28 at Reynoldsburg. "We lacked depth and experience. It's my hope that the maturity and drive of this team will prevail this year. Mchale Grant, Samaria Rodgers-Gossett and Hailey Jordan are impact players. I've designed a tough regular-season schedule to prepare us for tournament play. We have returned to Division II and expectations are high."