Ernest Bell is excited about taking over the Centennial girls basketball program.

An assistant women’s coach at Columbus State, Bell was named coach of the Stars on April 30, pending school board approval.

He will inherit a team that finished 16-7 overall and 10-4 in the City League-North Division this winter after going a combined 14-31 the prior two seasons.

“I’m very excited to be the head coach of this team,” he said. “I went to Beechcroft High School myself, and it’s just exciting to be back in the City League.”

Bell coached at Columbus State the past three seasons. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the middle school girls team and assistant coach of the middle school boys team at Columbus Torah Academy for three seasons.

At Centennial, Bell said he will work with a roster that has a lot of potential with players such as junior forward CiCi Dingess, sophomore forwards Lauren Bailey and Z'niya Peterson and sophomore guard Amari Scott.

However, the Stars are losing their top three players from this past season to graduation in forwards Tyler Johnson and Naa Dromo Korley and guard Jayana Harley.

“They have a great foundation already,” Bell said. “A lot of those underclassmen that are on the team already saw a lot of (playing) time. Because they were winning a lot of games, you can’t substitute experience. As far as filling those spots (lost to graduation), it’s just the next person up. We’re trying to build something there that’s going to last for years to come.”

Bell takes over for Pete Baumann, who went 30-38 in three seasons and resigned in March.

"We are excited to have coach Bell join our staff at Centennial,” athletics director Lucas Tuggle said. “We feel that the experience he brings from Columbus State along with his energy will build upon what coach Baumann achieved. With coach Bell joining our staff, I foresee an exciting future for our girls basketball program.”

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