Girls Basketball: Worthington Christian, Africentric advance to Division III regional finals

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Blessing King had 19 points and 10 rebounds to help Worthington Christian defeat Waynesville 52-40 in a Division III regional semifinal March 3 at Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD – Following a back-and-forth first three quarters, the Worthington Christian girls basketball team seized control in a Division III regional semifinal March 3 against Waynesville.

The Warriors held the Spartans scoreless in the fourth quarter on their way to a 52-40 victory that moved them to within one win of their second state appearance, with the other coming in 2001. 

At 1:30 p.m. March 6 at Springfield, Worthington Christian will play Anna or Cincinnati Purcell Marian in a regional final. 

The Warriors improved to 23-1 while Waynesville finished 16-8. 

“We wanted to limit turnovers, try and score as much as possible and play great defense,” junior forward Blessing King said. “The first half, we were trying to fight through (screens) instead of switching up. In the second half, that was the best defense we’ve played all season for sure.” 

Katherine Weakley had 18 points and King scored 10 of her 19 points in the second half to lead Worthington Christian. King also had 10 rebounds. 

The Warriors led 41-40 heading into the final period, with Weakley hitting a 3-pointer to make it 46-40 with 6 minutes, 25 seconds to go. 

The teams exchanged non-shooting technical fouls with 3:54 left and Worthington Christian leading 48-40, but Waynesville was unable to find any offensive rhythm down the stretch.

Among the goals for the Warriors, according to King, was slowing down Leah Butterbaugh and Isabella Cassani, and both were held to nine points. 

“Our tempo has been wearing teams down all year,” Warriors coach Jason Dawson said. “They’re a tough team and we kind of wore them down. The second half we got a little more aggressive and we had to box out and that was a challenge. They responded.” 

Africentric 54, Willard 50 (OT) 

In a Division III regional semifinal at Lexington, Africentric trailed for much of the game before rallying to force overtime when Anyiah Murphy made one of two free throws with 13 seconds left in regulation. 

The Nubians scored the first five points in overtime and held on to advance to a regional final against Ottawa-Glandorf at 6 p.m. March 6 at Lexington.

“That team was so good,” coach Will McKinney said. “It was just our perseverance in the half-court man-to-man.” 

Arianna Smith had 10 points and nine rebounds, Maliyah Johnson had 20 points and seven rebounds and Murphy scored 16 to lead the Nubians, who improved to 11-2 while Willard finished 21-4. 

“We’re playing and we’re back in the regional championship,” McKinney said. “It seems like we’ve played Ottawa-Glandorf one million times. They’re good like they always are.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek