Girls Basketball: Africentric Nubians win sixth consecutive City League championship
Unsure earlier this winter about whether its season would happen because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Africentric girls basketball team set its focus on taking advantage of every moment it had together once it was allowed to return to the court in mid-January.
The hunger the Nubians felt in representing the City League-South Division in the City championship game for the 15th time in 16 seasons was mirrored by Beechcroft, which won the City-North and advanced to the contest for the first time since 1992.
Africentric won 76-19 on Feb. 13 at East, marking its sixth consecutive title and 13th overall.
The Nubians improved to 6-2, and Beechcroft dropped to 7-1.
"It feels good,” said Nubians senior guard Arianna Smith, who has committed to Indiana State. “I’m real proud that we actually got here with the season we've had this year.”
Africentric received the No. 3 seed for the Division III district tournament despite having played only four games by the time of the drawing. The Nubians won state titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019 and advanced to a state semifinal last season before the tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.
In the City title game, Africentric used its signature pressure defense and fast-paced offense to force 12 first-quarter turnovers.
The Nubians led 21-6 by the end of the first quarter and 41-11 by halftime, with nine of Beechcroft’s points coming on three 3-pointers from senior guard Tessa Miller.
The Cougars lost senior guard LaBriar Franklin-Page to an injury in the first half, further complicating any comeback hopes.
"It was a good start, but we did have a lot of turnovers, too, and we kind of dialed that down in the second half,” Nubians senior guard Anyiah Murphy said.
Senior forward Maliyah Johnson, a Pittsburgh recruit, and Murphy both scored 16 points while Smith had 12 and senior guard Lyric Ransom added 10 for Africentric.
Johnson had eight points in the opening quarter and Murphy scored eight in the second period.
Miller had 12 points and junior guard LaLarra Bays scored five for the Cougars.
“We have some girls that have never played in a big game like this,” Beechcroft coach Mike Moncrief said. “We have a young ballclub as far as basketball years go. We had a lot of turnovers and we had our senior, LaBriar Franklin-Page, go down with an injury that she never returned from. We had foul trouble with the other guards. (The Nubians) do what they do and hats off to them. They pressure the basketball and cause havoc and destruction to get turnovers.”