Girls Basketball: Worthington Christian, Africentric capture Division III district titles

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group

With his team trailing by one point with 6 seconds remaining in a Division III district final Feb. 26, Worthington Christian girls basketball coach Jason Dawson called timeout to set up a play for Katherine Weakley. 

Blessing King took the inbounds pass and tossed it near the basket to Weakley, who missed the shot but was fouled. 

Weakley, a senior guard who has committed to Lipscomb, knocked down both free throws with 2.3 seconds left to give her team a 47-46 victory over visiting Liberty Union and its first district title since 2015. 

The Warriors improved to 22-1 and will play Waynesville or Cincinnati Mariemont in a regional semifinal March 3 at Springfield. 

“I grew up in this gym and this is my last game ever here,” Weakley said. “I didn’t want my last memory seeing another team cutting down the nets all excited while we’re over there crying in the locker room. … There was no way I was going to miss. This is my home and I’m not letting anyone else come into my home. I wanted to go out with a bang.” 

Worthington Christian’s Katherine Weakley cuts down the net after defeating Liberty Union in a Division III district final Feb. 26.

While Worthington Christian was the top seed, seventh-seeded Liberty Union had the game within its grasp. 

The Lions led 25-22 at halftime, but the Warriors charged out to a 39-33 lead with 1:53 left in the third quarter. 

Liberty Union trailed 40-35 heading into the final quarter but went on a 10-0 run and led 45-40 with 2:13 remaining. 

The Warriors had committed just three team fouls by that point but finally forced the Lions to the free-throw line with 1:08 to go, trailing 45-41.

Liberty Union missed the front end of that one-and-one and two others over the final minute. Worthington Christian tied it at 45 with 12.2 seconds left when Weakley made a pair of free throws. 

Abbie Riddle gave the Lions a 46-45 lead with 10.8 seconds to go when she made the first of two foul shots before the Warriors set up the final sequence for Weakley, who finished with 16 points.

Riddle scored 19 to lead Liberty Union, which finished 13-5.

“If you’ve got a franchise player, you’ve got to give it to the franchise player,” Dawson said.  

Africentric 58, Cardington 33 

For the 16th time in its 18 seasons, Africentric is heading to the regional tournament. 

The third-seeded Nubians built a 27-16 halftime lead and held second-seeded and host Cardington to four fourth-quarter points on their way to a 58-33 victory in a Division III district final Feb. 26. 

On March 3, Africentric will take a 10-2 record into a regional semifinal against Willard or Castalia Margaretta at Lexington. 

It was the only loss of the season for the Pirates, who finished 21-1. 

"I’m proud to get this win right here,” coach Will McKinney said. “We’re playing. I appreciate every day we have in the gym and I appreciate every game that we get to play. Anything can happen in any moment.” 

Arianna Smith had 20 points and Anyiah Murphy and Maliyah Johnson both scored 12 for the Nubians. 

Cardington’s Beth Hardwick, who averaged a team-high 13.5 points heading into the game, was held to six. 

“Our half-court defense was really good because they’re a very good shooting team,” McKinney said. “We talked about their ability to stroke the ball and put it up so we wanted our close-outs to be thorough. I thought they did a good job with that tonight.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek