Boys Basketball: Africentric won't play for City League title because of COVID-19 protocols

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Africentric coach Michael Bates instructs his team during a game at Pickerington Central on Jan. 30. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the Nubians will not compete in the City League championship game or in the Division III district tournament.

Because of COVID-19 protocols, the Africentric boys basketball team will not compete in the City League championship game at noon Feb. 20 at Columbus East or in the Division III district tournament. 

The Nubians are 7-1 overall and went 7-0 in the City-South Division to qualify for the City title game for the first time since 2013. 

“We found out (Feb. 19) at 5:45 p.m. right before we were to start our 6 p.m. practice,” coach Michael Bates said. “We were actually finishing up some pre-practice skills work.” 

According to Bates, Africentric isn’t expected to play any other games this winter but is “not ruling it out at this time.” 

Walnut Ridge, which went 6-1 in the City-South, including losing 54-53 to Africentric on Jan. 29, will face City-North champion Beechcroft in the City title game.

The Nubians are seeded fifth for the district tournament and were set to begin their postseason Feb. 24 at home against 18th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek, but that game will be considered a no-contest and the Aces will advance because Africentric still will be in quarantine. 

The only seniors for Africentric are Eli Burke, who averages 14.5 points, and Ernest Johnson. 

Sophomore Dailyn Swain, a 6-foot-6 guard who averages 17.5 points, and junior Dan Wagner, who averages 13 points, are other key players.  

“It’s been a tough year for the guys,” Bates said. “Everything has changed, but the level of commitment and the determination to be the best team they could be in spite of all the obstacles was impressive. Had a few tearful conversations with some players and parents last night. Families made so many sacrifices to have a season, not to mention, we were having a great season. 

“It’s been hard to find encouraging words this past year, but we fought to have a season and when we got that opportunity, we made the most of it and put ourselves in position to achieve all the goals we set for ourselves. Unfortunately we ran into COVID-19, and it was a team we could not beat.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek