The Africentric girls basketball team cruised to its fifth consecutive Division III district championship and 15th district title in 17 seasons by beating eighth-seeded North Union 71-25 on Feb. 28 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The Nubians' average margin of victory in their last five district finals is 35 points.
"We take it as a practice, but we take all competition seriously," senior guard Nyam Thornton said. "Whatever we have to do, we do it."
Thornton is in her fourth season as a key player for Africentric, but has taken on an even bigger role in ball-handling this season given that the Nubians lost Jordan Horston to graduation last spring. Horston, who now plays for Tennessee, was named Division III state Player of the Year and the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year last winter.
The top seed in the district, Africentric opened the postseason with wins over 21st-seeded International (91-13 on Feb. 22) and 10th-seeded Marion Elgin (77-15 on Feb. 26) before routing the Wildcats in a district final.
The Nubians were 21-4 entering a regional semifinal against Castalia Margaretta on March 4 at Lexington.
"We're a younger team (than last year) and we've got better energy," Thornton said. "We've got more energy and we're going to come out with it. Honestly, we're a fast team and ... we try to get out and get ahead early."
The Africentric-Margaretta winner faces Millbury Lake or Ottawa-Glandorf in the regional final Saturday, March 7, at Lexington. The regional champion advances to a state semifinal March 13 at Ohio State.
The Nubians are striving for their third consecutive state title.
"(Winning another district title) just means a lot," senior guard Alexia Smith said. "It shows all the hard work we've put in is working for us. We're not taking it for granted and keep on working. (Even though) the scoreboard shows (a lopsided win), we've still got to work."
Sakima Walker had 14 points, Smith scored 13, Thornton had 12 and junior forward Maliyah Johnson added 10 against North Union as the Nubians led 48-14 at halftime. Africentric went on a 20-2 run in the first half.
"What we did well was our full-court defense," Smith said. "Our press is what we're known (for), so when we put pressure on teams, we get turnovers and we can get easy layups. That's what we did well."
Scots, Bulldogs boys advance to semis
In the boys basketball district tournament, sixth-seeded Walnut Ridge and third-seeded South both reached semifinals in Division I.
The Scots beat 49th-seeded West 76-36 on Feb. 28 in a second-round game to improve to 20-4 and advance to a district semifinal March 4 against 17th-seeded Reynoldsburg. The semifinal winner faces top-seeded Gahanna or 22nd-seeded Whitehall in a district final Saturday, March 7, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion advances to play Hilliard Bradley, Newark, Dublin Coffman or Westerville South in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 11, at Ohio Dominican.
Walnut Ridge lost to Gahanna 53-50 on Dec. 21 but beat Bradley 45-44 on Jan. 4.
VonCameron Davis had 24 points and Leon Douglas scored 17 to lead the Scots against West.
South improved to 23-1 with a 91-42 victory over 48th-seeded Whetstone on Feb. 28 in a second-round game.
The Bulldogs played 13th-seeded Westerville Central in a district semifinal March 4, with the winner facing fourth-seeded Pickerington Central or 18th-seeded Delaware in a district final March 7 at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal March 12 at Ohio Dominican.
South and Walnut Ridge would meet for a third time this season if they both reach the regional final March 14 at Ohio Dominican. The teams split their two City League-South Division contests, with the host Scots winning 71-64 on Jan. 7 and the host Bulldogs winning 77-66 on Jan. 31.
In Division III, fifth-seeded Africentric played third-seeded North Union on March 3 in a district semifinal, with the winner facing fourth-seeded Ready or seventh-seeded Johnstown in a district final Friday, March 6, at Ohio Dominican.
The district champion plays Metamora Evergreen, Oregon Cardinal Stritch, Archbold or Toledo Ottawa Hills in a regional semifinal Wednesday, March 11, at Ohio University. The regional final is March 14 at OU.
Daniel Wagner had 19 points and Calijha'won Davis and Eli Burke both scored 13 as the Nubians beat 18th-seeded Mount Gilead 78-39 on Feb. 28 in a second-round game to improve to 13-10.
Northland boys fall to Patriots
For the second consecutive season, the Northland boys basketball team had an early exit from the Division I district tournament.
On Feb. 28 in a second-round game, the 29th-seeded Vikings led 26-23 at halftime and held a two-point lead after three quarters, but were outscored 21-10 in the fourth and lost to ninth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 63-54.
Northland, which lost to Olentangy 77-48 in a second-round game last season, finished 11-10 overall. The Vikings went 10-4 in the City-North to place third, behind Linden-McKinley (12-2) and Beechcroft (11-3).
Junior guard Makhale Massey, who had 17 points against Liberty, averaged 13.5 points and was named first-team all-league. Sophomore guard Robert Dorsey III averaged 13 points and was second-team all-league.
Among the seniors were forward Eldon Boateng and guard DeVan White, both of whom were honorable mention all-league.
Junior guards Stephen Reavish and Shemar Watson and freshman guard Jacquin Bridges also were key players for the Vikings.