CARDINGTON, Ohio -- In a COVID-19 season that has been anything but normal, Africentric did what has become as common as drinking coffee in the morning when the Nubians handed Cardington its first loss of the season in a 58-33 rout for its sixth-straight Division III district championship.
It was never really close after Cardington took a 9-6 lead, as the Nubians responded with a 7-0 run to end the first quarter to take a 15-9 lead into the second frame.
From that point forward, Africentric dominated as the senior trio of Arianna Smith, Anyiah Murphy and Maliyah Johnson began to impose their will. Smith and Johnson, who both stand at about 6-foot, towered over Cardington's smaller lineup, dominating the boards on both ends of the floor.
Smith, an Indiana State commit, was especially dominant finishing with 20 points and 17 rebounds. Murphy added 12 points while Johnson pitched in 12.
The Nubians did not allow Cardington to score a field goal inside the three-point line until midway through the third quarter, as the unbeaten Pirates were relegated to shooting contested three-point jumpers.
Cardington senior Beth Hardwick was a standout for the Pirates, however, knocking down a few three point jumpers and competing on both ends of the floor.
Coming in unbeaten, Cardington did not have the size, athleticism or speed to handle Africentric. The Nubians had a clear advantage and used that on both ends, as their pressure defense was especially impressive.
The Nubians, winners of the last six district championships and 16 of the last 17, will now move on to the Shelby regional where they will take on the winner of Willard and Margaretta on Weds., March 3 at 5:30 p.m. at Lexington High School.
Albeit a late start to the season, Africentric is rounding into shape and looking better by the game. The Nubians are at a disadvantage when it comes to conditioning compared to other teams in the state who have been playing two months longer than them.
Despite that, Africentric has a veteran coach in Will McKinney, who is as accomplished as any coach anywhere in America, which will have them once again contending for a state championship in Division III.