COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The two boys basketball teams with the best record in the Columbus City League face off Friday night when Africentric hosts South as the Nubians look to finish with a perfect conference record for the first time in school history.
Africentric has already clinched a spot in the CCL title game against northland next Saturday and are looking for their second-straight conference championship. But South would like nothing more than to snap the Nubians 13-0 league record and avenge their overtime loss earlier this season.
“I’ve been looking forward to it ever since that loss,” South senior LaJames Washington said. “Friday big game. Thinking about it all year that’s all we talk about, talk about beating Afro.”
Africentric went into South High School and beat the Bulldogs 67-60 in OT January 10.
“You know they got a chip on they shoulder,” Africentric senior Dyson Bibins said. “They trying to stop us from being undefeated but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Africentric brings a confidence that comes from a state Final Four run last year and only having one city league loss in the last three years.
“This is a good team this year, I’d say better than last year as far as chemistry,” Bibins said. “It’s been a good run this year so far so hopefully we go back to the Final Four and make it.”
While Africentric expected this success, South went through some necessary growing pains.
“From the jump it was kind of hard because we ain’t get along as a team, we were arguing but our coaches, coach [Ramon] Spears, got us together, made us start playing as a team and got us to want to win,” senior Desean Pollard said.
The Bulldogs have won 14 games with only three losses despite a lack of size. But they make up for it in other ways.
“We’re a small team but we play rough, get in there and play aggressive,” Washington said.
“This group here is probably more athletic than a lot of the other groups [I’ve coached],” Spears said. “My 2019 team was athletic but I think that’s what helps this group.”
Africentric’s success comes from having two 6’6″ forwards in Dailyn Swain and Preston Steele. But there’s also an intangible element that makes the Nubians go.
“They’ve been doing an excellent job talking to one another. The communication has been great and the chemistry has been great,” Africentric coach Michael Bates said. “Having a player-led team is so much easier to coach than a coach-led team.”