The Africentric and Northland girls basketball teams once again will meet for the City League championship.
The Nubians and Vikings will face each other in the league title game for the fifth consecutive year at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at South.
Africentric won the past four City finals, including 64-36 last season, but Northland kept the 2018 league title game close, falling 44-43.
The Vikings are 15-6 overall and went 14-0 in the City League-North Division for the fourth consecutive season. They have won 61 consecutive league games.
In non-league action, Northland lost to three Division I area programs that could make deep runs in the postseason in Canal Winchester (42-38 on Nov. 26), Dublin Coffman (54-37 on Jan. 27) and Gahanna (52-37 on Feb. 1) as well as three to out-of-area programs from different parts of Ohio.
"We really have been playing good ball together," Vikings coach Jaybee Bethea said. "We're just starting to get everything that I want from them. They're getting it defensively now. Some of us are still young. We've got a bunch of sophomores and juniors, and a lot that didn't play varsity before are getting it right now."
The Nubians, meanwhile, are 17-4 overall and went 14-0 in the City-South. They have won 68 consecutive league games but took a more national approach to their non-league schedule after winning the past two Division III state championships.
Africentric endured one of its losses to Division I area power Newark, falling 56-55 in overtime on Jan. 25, but also lost to Chattanooga (Tennessee) Hamilton Heights Christian 66-59 on Dec. 7, Detroit Edison 68-59 on Dec. 28 and Landover Hills (Maryland) New Hope Academy 54-53 on Feb. 1.
Hamilton Heights Christian was ranked second and Edison was 10th in the MaxPreps Top 25 national rankings last week and New Hope Academy improved to 17-7 with its win over the Nubians after going 38-3 and winning the GEICO Nationals last season.
The latest matchup between Africentric and Northland will look somewhat different than last year's contest considering who the Vikings have added and who no longer is in uniform for the Nubians.
Africentric lost Jordan Horston, who was one of the nation's top players last season, to graduation, but still has a slew of college commits in seniors Alexia Smith (guard, Minnesota), Nyam Thornton (guard, Texas Tech) and Sakima Walker (post player, Rutgers) and junior Maliyah Johnson (forward, Pittsburgh).
Juniors Charjae Brock (guard), Anyia Murphy (guard) and Arianna Smith (forward) also could factor in how the Nubians manage their rotations.
Africentric received the No. 1 seed for the Division III district tournament and will open the postseason Feb. 22 at home against 21st-seeded International.
"I do like the way we've been playing," Nubians coach Will McKinney said. "I like how we've been progressing. My juniors have been getting some good opportunities to play in (high-profile) games."
Alexandria Hamilton is now at Coppin State after being a key player for Northland in each of the past four City finals, including in 2018 when she scored 21 points, but the Vikings figure to have a stronger presence inside with the addition of 6-foot-1 senior forward Saige Glover, a Niagara recruit.
Glover, who previously played for Pickerington North, is averaging 21.5 points and has scored more than 1,000 for her prep career.
Junior point guard Azariah Binford (14 points per game) and sophomore guard Nahdia Alcorn (11 ppg) also have been key scorers for Northland, while junior wing player Camenyah Brown and freshman Ayah Duffy should play key roles in the matchup as well.
Northland is seeded 16th for the Division I district tournament and will play at 14th-seeded Canal Winchester or at home against 36th-seeded Teays Valley in the second round Feb. 21.
"(Glover has been) playing both ends of the floor," Bethea said. "A lot of times in high school you get a kid that's resistant to it. She's made the comment that one of the reasons she's playing so comfortably is that it's like we're a family. There's no jealousy about what she's doing."
Cougars swimmers prep for sectional
The Beechcroft boys and girls swimming teams are preparing to compete in a Division II sectional Saturday, Feb. 8, at Columbus Academy.
The winner of each event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advance to district Wednesday, Feb. 12, at Ohio State.
On Feb. 1 in the City meet at Columbus Aquatics Center, the girls scored 34 points to finish third behind Centennial (118) and Whetstone (86) and the boys finished third (12) behind Centennial (115) and Whetstone (102) and ahead of Eastmoor Academy (10).
Senior Zora Whitfield of the girls team was runner-up in both the 100-yard butterfly (1 minute, 17.15 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:29.03).
"Since we're such a small team, (the other teams) were cheering for us," said Whitfield, who is considering attending Wooster or Denison. "This was my last City meet. I've been having a little bit of health issues ... but I think I dropped a little bit of time today.
"It's been interesting. All my life I've been (swimming for) club teams and it's been really interesting getting to (compete in) the City because it's definitely different and definitely friendlier."
Whitfield's sister, sophomore Nyrobi Whitfield, won both the 200 individual medley (2:32.09) and 100 backstroke (1:10.19).
The other competitor for the girls team was sophomore Lily Braaksma, who was runner-up in both the 50 freestyle (29.53) and 100 free (1:07.11).
The boys team had two competitors at the league meet in sophomore Daylen Allen and freshman Matthew Nutt.
Allen, who attends Fort Hays, won the 100 breast (1:08.67) and placed third in the 50 free (24.78).
"It was good," Allen said. "I thought I had a good shot (at winning the 100 breast)."
Scots wrestling team defends dual title
The Walnut Ridge wrestling team defended its City dual tournament championship Jan. 30.
The host Scots opened with a 48-30 win over Northland and then beat Mifflin 50-19 to win the four-team event.
Northland, which was without three of its expected starters, lost to Whetstone 32-30 in the consolation match.
The City individual tournament is Feb. 22 at Centennial. The Scots also are defending champions of that event.