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Statement week awaits in Central Ohio

By Zach Fleer, 12/09/19, 12:30PM EST


Africentric has a big week with both Walnut Ridge and South coming to town in league play

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Starting on Tuesday, league play will have kicked off in every single conference in Central Ohio. With that come big-time matchups in every division and corner of the area. 

Let's take a look at what's on deck in the Columbus area this week.

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Top five teams to be tested

Every single top five program in the area will be tested this week. While Hilliard Bradley is fresh off its 44th-straight conference win this past Friday when it took down Thomas Worthington on the road, the Jaguars will face another stiff challenge this week.

The Jags will do battle with Pickerington North in the PBP Classic, as this will be a matchup between two teams that were expected to meet in the district finals last year. Bradley and North play different styles and each have big-time talent, which will make Saturday's matchup an intriguing one that could be a lookahead to the district tournament.

Speaking of Thomas Worthington, the Cardinals face another stiff challenge with a road matchup at Dublin Jerome on Tuesday before ending the week with games against Worthington Kilbourne and South. After falling to Bradley last week, Thomas can notch a signature win in the area against a Bulldogs team that has already proven it belongs among the elite class in Division I.

South has a tough week awaiting, hitting the road for league matchups against Eastmoor and Africentric. The Bulldogs are coming off a win over St. Charles at home last week in which South survived an early deficit and pulled away in the second half.

Off to a 3-0 start, Gahanna has been one of the stronger teams to begin the year. Sean Jones has played some big-time basketball and has this team competing at a high level as the Lions started off OCC-Ohio play by handling Reynoldsburg in an impressive showing. Gahanna can make a big statement on Friday when it hits the road to take on Pickerington North in a game that could be a sign for things to come in the conference if the Lions are able to pull out the victory.

After a week off thanks to its football program's second state title in three years, Pickerington Central will return to the floor this week and won't see a game at home until next Tuesday against Pickerington North. The Tigers will head to Groveport and Lancaster this week before ending things on Saturday at Nationwide Arena against an Akron Buchtel squad that is missing five-star sophomore Chris Livingston, who left the program for Western Reserve Academy. 

Every top five program in the area will face a fellow top five opponent, as Friday and Saturday will serve as great indications for what's to follow this season. 

Remaining Unbeatens in Division I

  • Hilliard Bradley, 2-0 - Jags are off to a hot start with wins of former Indiana state champ Hamilton Southeastern and Thomas Worthington.
  • South, 2-0 - The Bulldogs have impressive wins over Akron Buchtel and St. Charles and will hit the road for all three games this week.
  • Gahanna, 3-0 - The Lions are playing with great chemistry and trust this week and will get its biggest challenge yet on Friday at Pickerington North. 
  • Dublin Coffman, 1-0 - While only having one game under its belt, Dublin Coffman had an impressive showing on the road at Hilliard Davidson last week. The Rocks will host Olentangy and Westland this week before hitting the road to take on Parkersburg South in West Virginia this Saturday.
  • Big Walnut, 3-0 - Dating back to last season, Big Walnut has won seven of its last eight games with its only loss coming to Javohn Garcia and Pickerington Central. That's pretty impressive considering that the Eagles went on the road and knocked off Canal Winchester to begin OCC-Capital play last Friday. 
  • Groveport, 2-0 - The Cruisers won back-to-back games this weekend, holding both Franklin Heights and Hilliard Darby under 50 points. We'll see if Groveport is for real this week when it hosts Pickerington Central and Canal Winchester. 
  • Marysville, 2-0 - Jack Christian has been on an absolute tear, scoring 63 points in the Monarchs' first two games of the year. Marysville will be tested on Tuesday when it heads to Olentangy Liberty for a non-league showdown between two teams that used to compete in the Central division. 
  • Upper Arlington, 1-0 - While it took everything the Golden Bears had to dispatch Central Crossing on the road on Friday, Upper Arlington came out on top and will look to pick up a signature win at home on Tuesday against Westerville Central. Upper Arlington doesn't have a superstar like Dane Goodwin or Max Martz to rely on this year, which will make things interesting to see if the Golden Bears can continue its dominance in the OCC. 
  • Whitehall, 2-0 - One of the surprise undefeateds, Whitehall picked up a great win over Northland in the opener before rolling over Bexley by 20 points this past Saturday. The Rams host Wellington in league play on Friday in what will be another statement game for the program. 
  • Mount Vernon, 1-0 - With only one game under its belt, Mount Vernon took down Highland to begin the season. Playing in a league out of the area that no other Central District teams play in, Mount Vernon is usually a bit of an unknown heading into the district tournament as of late. 

Games to watch in Division II

  • #5 Buckeye Valley @ #4 London - Before we preview this game, we want to again send our prayers and thoughts to Buckeye Valley sophomore Troy Scowden. With Scowden suffering a fractured skull on a freak accident in Friday's game against Kipp, we want the family to know how much we are thinking about him during this time. With Scowden likely sidelined for significant time, the Barons will be playing with the sophomore big man on their hearts and minds, as they head on the road to take on London. This will be one of the biggest non-league matchups in rural Central Ohio and will be a great preview of what to expect in Division II.
  • #3 Granville @ Johnstown - Always a battle in the Licking County League, this cross-divisional showdown will tell us a lot about what to expect in the LCL this season.
  • #7 Linden-McKinley @ #5 Buckeye Valley - The Barons will be tested once more when Linden-McKinley comes to town on Saturday. Both teams offer intriguing length and guard play, as this game could be a preview of a district semifinal or even district final.
  • #6 Beechcroft @ #9 Centennial - An early season battle to begin City League play will take place on Bethel Road on Tuesday. Centennial won this matchup to begin the year last season and the Stars will look to make another statement against the Cougars. After falling to Gahanna to begin the year, Beechcroft took down lowly West and Marion-Franklin in non-league play to wrap up last week.
  • Clear Fork @ #10 River Valley - The Vikings will get a great test against one of the MOAC's elite programs in Clear Fork on Tuesday. River Valley has been stellar thus far this season, as the trio of Dylan Johnson, Ethan Bell and Jahki Henderson have paved the way to wins over Mount Gilead, Galion and Olentangy Berlin. 

Remaining Unbeatens in Division II

  • Jonathan Alder, 1-0 - With only one game played, the Pioneers held Bellefontaine to 21 points in a dominant showing. This might be Alder's best team over the last decade, which will have the Pioneers in position to win a district title in a few months.
  • Granville, 3-0 - The Blue Aces are looking for a sixth-straight LCL title and will be in great position to do just that with the way they've started the season.
  • Buckeye Valley, 2-0 - The Barons have the pieces to have a very successful season in its first year in the MSL-Ohio. With Scowden sidelined, it'll be interesting to see who steps up in his absence.
  • Heath, 3-0 - The young Bulldogs are off to a strong start and will look to keep winning as Watkins Memorial comes to visit this week.
  • Centennial, 1-0 - With one win over Hilliard Davidson, the Stars can make a statement when Beechcroft pays a visit on Tuesday before a rivalry game awaits on Friday at Whetstone.
  • River Valley, 3-0 - The Vikings are off to a hot start and can cement their place in the top 10 against Clear Fork on Tuesday. 
  • Eastmoor, 1-0 - The Warriors took care of business against East on Saturday and will be able to shake things up in the City when South comes to Weyant Avenue on Tuesday for its league opener. 
  • Bloom-Carroll, 1-0 - With only one game played, we'll see how legit Bloom-Carroll is when they take on Worthington Christian and DeSales this week. 

Games to watch in Division III

  • #2 Worthington Christian @ Bloom-Carroll - DJ Moore still has yet to debut and likely won't until later this week when the Warriors take on Grandview Heights in a big-time MSL showdown. It'll be interesting to see if Bloom-Carroll has the talent to take down the Warriors at home on Monday.
  • #8 (D1) Walnut Ridge @ #3 Africentric - Whoever does the scheduling for the City League did the Nubians zero favors as Walnut Ridge and South will both play Africentric in a span of four days. 
  • #2 (D1) South @ #3 Africentric - The 270 Hoops Game of the Week, the Nubians will host South in what should be a showdown of elite backcourts. If Africentric can get a win in either one of these games, it'll shake up the entire picture in the City League South.
  • #10 Columbus Academy @ #2 (D4) Wellington - The defending MSL-Ohio champs will look to defend its league title when it heads on the road to take on Wellington later this week. Academy played Grandview Heights tough last week and will look for better results against the Jaguars. 

Remaining Unbeatens in Division III

  • Harvest Prep, 1-0 - CJ Anthony dropped 23 points and the Warriors rolled past Grove City Christian to begin MSL-Cardinal play. The Warriors have just two more games in Ohio before 2020, as Harvest Prep will play five games in Kentucky over the holidays.
  • North Union, 3-0 - The Tigers are off to a strong start behind the play of junior guard Preston Crabtree, winning two of three games by double digits including road victories at Pleasant and Urbana. In a division that doesn't have much depth at all, North Union could be a surprise team this year. 
  • Northridge, 1-0 - Northridge has played just one game and has winnable matchups this week at home against Newark Catholic and Lakewood.

Games to watch in Division IV

  • #2 (D3) Worthington Christian @ #1 Grandview Heights - Rematch of last year's district semifinals where Grandview Heights knocked off the higher seeded Warriors. This is likely the return of DJ Moore, which should result in a banger on Friday.
  • #10 (D3) Columbus Academy @ #2 Wellington - The Jaguars have two statement games this week in league play against Columbus Academy and Whitehall. The MSL-Ohio is a much stiffer challenge than the Cardinal division, as we are interested to see how Wellington fares this year.
  • #4 Berne Union @ #3 Fisher Catholic - These teams met up three times last year and every single matchup went down to the wire, with Berne Union winning the final two games including in the district finals. The Rockets will hit the road in what should be another great game in the MSL-Cardinal.
  • #10 Delaware Christian @ #5 Shekinah Christian - Shekinah is off to a hot 3-0 start and will host Delaware Christian in an intriguing MOCAL game on Friday.
  • #7 Grove City Christian @ Bishop Rosecrans - Rosecrans is widely regarded as the top challenger to Harvest Prep in the MSL-Cardinal. Grove City Christian is back to Division IV and will be tested in a game that will let us know where the Eagles will stand in the conference and division.

Remaining Unbeatens in Division IV

  • Grandview Heights, 3-0 - The prohibitive favorite in Division IV, Grandview Heights is off to a stellar start with wins over Division I Independence, Division II Bishop Hartley and Division III Columbus Academy. We'll see just how good the Bobcats are against Worthington Christian on Friday. 
  • Fisher Catholic, 2-0 - The Irish have two double digit wins against inferior competition and will be challenged this week with games against Berne Union and Crooksville. 
  • Shekinah Christian, 3-0 - Shekinah is rolling to begin the year, as senior Joel Headings is putting up big time numbers with his team winning all three games by a combined 65 points. 
  • KIPP Columbus, 1-0 - The newest member in Division IV, Kipp has one win under its belt as its Friday matchup at Buckeye Valley was suspended after Scowden's unfortunate injury. We'll see if Don Estis' team can keep it rolling in its first season in the OHSAA.
  • Ridgedale, 2-0 - The furthest team out of the district, Ridgedale has dominated to begin the season with double digit wins over Cristo Rey and Bucyrus. It'll be interesting to see if the Rockets can keep it up in the always challenging Northern 10 Conference. 

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