City League Roundup: Africentric Nubians girls basketball team again among central Ohio's best

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior guard Arianna Smith scored 20 points in Africentric's 58-33 win at Cardington on Feb. 26 in a Division III district final. The Nubians won their 16th district title in 18 seasons.

As has often been the case following the district tournament, Africentric was the last City League girls basketball team still competing this season. 

The Nubians, who won Division III state titles in 2018 and ’19 and advanced to a state semifinal last winter before the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, followed their 76-19 win over Beechcroft on Feb. 13 in the City championship game by breezing through their first four postseason games.

Then on March 3 in a regional semifinal at Lexington, Africentric rallied to beat Willard 54-50 in overtime to improve to 11-2.  

The Nubians played Ottawa-Glandorf in a regional final March 6, with the winner advancing to a state semifinal against Canfield South Range or Apple Creek Waynedale at 5 p.m. March 11 at the University of Dayton. The state final is 2 p.m. March 13. 

“It’s been an emotional, tumultuous season with the pandemic and then it’s the fact that we missed two months of practice,” coach Will McKinney said. “Then we were able to come back Jan. 15, but even when we came back, we still haven’t practiced well for three days in a row with my whole team. … Basketball just requires practice. I don’t care how talented or good you think you are, if you don’t practice, you don’t have that cohesiveness and you can’t get into any type of flow. It hurts you at the offensive end.” 

Africentric had played only four games at the time of the district tournament drawing Jan. 31 but still received the No. 3 seed. 

After beating 13th-seeded Harvest Prep 63-27 on Feb. 23, the Nubians won 58-33 on Feb. 26 in a district final at second-seeded Cardington. 

Senior guard Arianna Smith had 20 points and senior guards Maliyah Johnson and Anyiah Murphy both scored 12 against the Pirates, who finished 21-1 as the Nubians won their 16th district title in 18 seasons. 

"It’s been a heck of a year, but I’m just happy that we have any time to play and (I) appreciate every win,” McKinney said. “This was our 16th district championship. But you know what? It feels like the first one. I haven’t felt this excited about the district championship since 2005. … The next game isn’t guaranteed, literally.” 

While the Nubians went 5-0 to win the City-South Division, Beechcroft won the City-North at 7-0 and lost to fifth-seeded Heath 40-19 on Feb. 19 in the first round of the Division II district tournament as the No. 11 seed to finish 7-2 overall. 

Senior guards LaBriar Franklin-Page and Tessa Miller and junior guard LaLarra Bays were first-team all-league. 

Beechcroft’s 49-48 victory over Northland on Jan. 27 snapped a 32-game losing streak to the Vikings and also ended Northland’s 62-game City-North winning streak.  

Their appearance in the City final was the Cougars’ first since 1992. 

Northland went 7-4 overall and 6-1 in the City-North, including losing to fifth-seeded Watterson 55-29 on Feb. 19 in the second round of the Division I district tournament as the 30th seed. 

Junior guards Nahdia Alcorn and Brianna Hamilton should be among the top returnees after making first-team all-league along with senior guard La’Remy Woods. Junior guard Tiarra Vance was second-team all-league. 

Centennial finished 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the City-North but did not compete in the Division II district tournament. 

In Ernest Bell’s first season as coach, the Stars were led by freshman guard Jenna Kimbrough, who averaged 13 points and made second-team all-league. 

Centennial junior Alec Proudfoot finished fifth in diving in the Division II state meet Feb. 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. Proudfoot also won a district title Feb. 16 at Jefferson Country Club.

Stars’ Proudfoot 

places fifth at state 

At the Division II state boys swimming and diving meet Feb. 25 at Branin Natatorium in Canton, Centennial junior diver Alec Proudfoot earned a fifth-place finish (416.05) and a spot on the awards podium. 

He advanced to state by winning a district title, scoring 476.35 on Feb. 16 at Jefferson Country Club. 

“I was a little disappointed (with my state performance), but overall I can’t complain,” Proudfoot said. “I was pretty stoked because my mom, dad and grandma were able to come and watch me dive. The competition was about what I expected. There was only 2.2 points separating myself from third, so I didn’t expect it to be that close.” 

Proudfoot, who practices year-round with a club team but missed extensive time over the winter because of the pandemic, added a series of new dives this season to increase his degree of difficulty. 

“There’s always going to be that part of me that wants to have achieved more, but looking back through all the time I had and the practices, I can’t be upset,” Proudfoot said. “I feel like this was a really successful season.” 

Northland, Briggs 

bowlers win titles 

The Briggs boys and Northland girls bowling teams captured City championships Feb. 25 at HP Lanes. 

In semifinal girls matches, Northland defeated South 1,520-1,493 and West beat Beechcroft 1,459-1,174. The Vikings then beat West 1,503-1,404 for the title. 

Junior Nasia Bailey led the Vikings with games of 174 and 168 in the championship match, with junior Arpana Chheteri and sophomores Sustika Ahangkari, Benisha Gurung and Juliane Lukambo also among the competitors. 

“They’re coachable, they want to win, they’re competitors (and) they come to practice and work hard,” coach Peggy Holley said. “I like that about them.” 

Competing for the Cougars were seniors CeCe Reeder and TaAliyah Palmer, junior Tiwa Adediran and sophomores Promise Alfred and JaKierah Kinard. 

“(The seniors) were just a treat to be around,” coach Matt Bell said. 

Briggs defeated Whetstone 2,265-2,026 and Mifflin 1,934-1,917. 

Against Mifflin, senior Sebastian Davis bowled games of 183 and 169 and junior Tyler Lumbard had games of 174 and 159. Lumbard was a Division I district qualifier this season. 

Other key bowlers for Briggs included seniors Aaron Hill, Kyle Thy, Zain Alley and Elijah Aaron. 

“We’re very fortunate and happy we got a chance to bowl,” coach Art Susi said. “We’ve had some real great glimpses of our potential and what they can do. (It was) real tough on the kids being off for two months. We’ve tried to stick together. We’ve persevered and stuck to it.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek