Returning to the level of play that helped the Eastmoor Academy girls basketball team win four consecutive Division II district championships from 2013-16 and make a state tournament appearance in 2016 has taken what Warriors coach Charity Martin-King calls "a lot of rebuilding."

The Warriors lost in a district final in 2017 and fell in a district semifinal last season while competing in Division I.

Having a large senior class and being back in Division II, Eastmoor got off to an 11-2 start before losing 37-35 to Canal Winchester on Jan. 14. That game marked the last contest for senior guard Mchale Grant, a 1,000-point career scorer who is no longer with the team.

The Warriors won five of their next seven games and earned the No. 1 seed for the district tournament, and they made that ranking stand up by beating second-seeded Granville 48-40 in a district final March 1 at Westerville Central.

"It's been an interesting tournament," Martin-King said. "We've got six seniors, and four of them are starters. They want it badly. A lot of the conversation was that we haven't come this far to lay down, and I like that mentality."

Eastmoor was 20-5 before playing Thornville Sheridan in a regional semifinal March 5 at Zanesville. The winner plays Washington Court House or New Philadelphia in a regional final Friday, March 8, at Zanesville.

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal March 14 at Ohio State.

Senior forward Hailey Jordan had 16 points and senior guard Samaria Rodgers-Gossett, who was named district Player of the Year, scored 13.

Jordan also is a 1,000-point career scorer.

Seniors Mallory Barnes (center), Teresa Craig (guard) Kahlani Pack (forward) and Elise Pryor (guard) also have been key players for Eastmoor, which beat seventh-seeded Licking Valley 50-44 in a district semifinal Feb. 26 as Rodgers-Gossett had 17 points and Barnes scored 14.

Two of Eastmoor's regular-season losses came against Africentric, which captured its 14th district championship in 16 seasons March 1 with a 72-35 victory over sixth-seeded Utica at Ohio Dominican.

The top-seeded and top-ranked Nubians, who beat 14th-seeded Liberty Union 73-17 in a district semifinal Feb. 26, were 24-0 before playing Shelby in a regional semifinal March 6 at Lexington. The winner plays Elida or Millbury Lake in a regional final Saturday, March 9, at Lexington.

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal March 14 at Ohio State.

Against Utica, senior guard Jordan Horston had 18 points, junior guard Alexia Smith scored 16 and junior forward Sakima Walker added 12 for the Nubians, who have won 33 consecutive games dating to last season.

"I loved it," coach Will McKinney said. "I thought our bigs defended exceptionally well (against Utica) because their big girl (Emily Londot) was legit."

City wrestlers compete at district

Eight City League wrestling programs had competitors at the district level March 1 and 2, but none had athletes advance to state.

In the Division I district tournament at Hilliard Darby, Walnut Ridge's Sihlas Padmore (152 pounds) won his first match but lost his next two to finish 41-14 on the season.

He was the only Division I wrestler from the City to win his opening district match.

At Mentor, Northland had five participants and West had three but none won a match.

Competing for the Vikings were Abdirahman Moualem (106), Carlos Najar-Ayala (145), Ashraf Aldamen (195), Correy Craddolph (220) and Josiah Ellis (heavyweight).

In a 10-team sectional Feb. 23 at Marysville, Moualem was runner-up while Craddolph and Ellis both placed third and Aldamen and Najar-Ayala were fourth.

Also competing at the Mentor district tournament were West's Fatah Abass (120), Zacharia Abdiziz (106) and Todd Barret (heavyweight).

Other City competitors at Darby were Mifflin's Tawon Cannon (132) and Ajoure Lawrence (145) and Walnut Ridge's Yaniel Castillo (126) and Melvin Patterson (145).

Beechcroft was among four City programs that had at least one qualifier to the Division II district tournament at Heath.

Junior Alhaji Sidibe (195) went 0-2 at district to finish 28-16.

"Last year was my first year wrestling and I love it," Sidibe said. "I've really started to fall in love with the sport now, so I can see the progress with wanting it more, whereas last year not everything clicked. It's been a blessing."

Also at Heath, Marion-Franklin's Khaliq Porter (heavyweight) went 2-2 to finish 40-8. East's Ammar Salaam (106) went 1-2, South's Leon Miller (182) went 1-2 and Marion-Franklin's Jalin Goodman (126) went 0-2.

Four boys teams reach district semis

The City had four boys basketball teams advance to district semifinals.

In Division I, 12th-seeded Walnut Ridge beat Chillicothe 66-37 in a second-round game March 1 to advance to face ninth-seeded Newark in a district semifinal March 6.

The winner of that contest plays top-seeded Dublin Coffman or 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange in a district final Saturday, March 9, at Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The district champion plays Hilliard Bradley, Thomas Worthington, Canal Winchester or Pickerington North in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 13, at Ohio Dominican. The regional final is March 16 at ODU.

Also in Division I, 19th-seeded Northland lost to 16th-seeded Olentangy 78-47 in a second-round game March 1.

In Division II second-round games March 2, top-seeded South beat 20th-seeded Marion-Franklin 85-50 on March 1, sixth-seeded Beechcroft beat 17th-seeded East 70-47 and 10th-seeded Eastmoor lost to fourth-seeded Hartley 63-54.

South played ninth-seeded Bexley and Beechcroft faced seventh-seeded Watterson in district semifinals March 5, with the winners set to meet in a district final Saturday, March 9, at ODU.

The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 14 at Bowling Green.

In Division III, seventh-seeded Africentric beat 23rd-seeded Madison Plains 59-21 in a second-round game March 2 to advance to face fourth-seeded Columbus Academy in a district semifinal March 5.

The winner plays top-seeded Harvest Prep or 11th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in a district final Friday, March 8, at the Convention Center.

The district champion advances to face Frankfurt Adena or Chesapeake in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 13, at Ohio University. The regional final is March 16 at the same site.

Briggs bowlers advance to state

Briggs juniors James Pappas and Dakota Fink are heading to the Division I state tournament.

Fink will compete Friday, March 8, in the girls state event at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl after rolling a 708 three-game series to capture the district championship March 2 at HP Lanes.

Competing as an individual at district, Fink rolled a 209 in her opening game, followed by a 253 and a 246. She won the state championship as a freshman in 2017 with a 677 before finishing 47th (535) at state last season.

"I was surprised," Fink said of winning the district title. "I didn't expect that at all. I had seven (strikes) in a row in the second and third (games). Hopefully, I'll do a lot better than I did last year."

Pappas will compete in the boys state tournament Saturday, March 9, at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl after placing fourth (658) on March 2 at HP Lanes to earn the second of three individual state-qualifying spots.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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