skip navigation

Previewing the City League North

By Zach Fleer, 10/31/23, 10:45AM EDT


We preview what's ahead in the City League North

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Land was back in 2022-23, as Northland rolled through the City League en route to its first title since 2016. The Vikings restored their place atop the North division, a league they dominated for a decade from 2007 until 2017. 

Behind the play of star freshman guard King Kendrick, the Vikings rolled through the North division - save for two losses to Linden-McKinley - and met up with the heavily favored Africentric in the City title game at East (there's no better place for that game than East at noon by the way). 

Kendrick dazzled his way to local (and what has become national) fame in that game, dropping 33 points and leading Northland to a program-changing win. The Vikings return to the hardwood in 2023-24 as the bully in the division in Tihon Johnson's third season leading the program.

Northland got some help in the transfer portal this offseason, bringing in junior 6-foot-7 big man Nehemiah McMorris from Gahanna Lincoln and sophomore 6-foot-1 sharp shooting guard Jaden Shoultz. The big three of Kendrick, McMorris and Shoultz will bring plenty of offensive firepower, however, Northland has a handful of key role players returning as well. The mix of talent, experience and diverse scoring will help Northland be favored in every single game it plays in the division, while the Vikings will go out and challenge themselves in the non-conference. 

As long as Kendrick is in the backcourt, the Vikings will be a favorite in this division, as the Northland dynasty appears to be getting back on track. 

Outside of Northland, the division remains fairly strong at the top. Beechcroft and Linden-McKinley appear to both be challengers to Northland as usual. The Cougars have a talented senior backcourt in Ro'Sean Burns and Dom Wise. Burns was a first-team all-district performer last year in Division II, averaging 24 points per game, while only having one arm. Yes, he's that good. Longtime Beechcroft coach Humphrey Simmons consistently churns out winning teams and we expect no different this year.

Linden-McKinley is now three years removed from their last division title in 2020, but the Panthers have bragging rights over Northland with its sweep of the Vikings last season. You won't find a tougher pound for pound guard in the area than Linden senior Phil Towns. The 5-foot-9 guard could have a massive scoring season as he and fellow senior Kevin Darthard III will carry a heavy load for the Panthers.  Coach Kevin Darthard II has officially restored order in the Linden program, leading the Panthers to a district title in 2022 and establishing a culture where winning is expected, not just hoped for.

Mifflin was a bit of a surprise last season, finishing with a 16-7 record and falling just one game behind Northland in the division. The Punchers return to the floor this year with a new roster and new coach, as Al Jarrett has taken over the reigns of the program. Former coach Tony Mangette departed following the season, and along with him went all-city forward LJ Foster, who transferred to Walnut Ridge for his senior year. The Punchers got some help in the transfer portal, however, as former Westerville South guard Tariq Johnson will suit up for Mifflin and could end up having a breakout year.

Going along with surprise teams, Whetstone had a double-digit win campaign last year, going 11-12 (8-6) in Troy Mundy's first year as head coach. Mundy, a 2013 graduate of Gahanna Lincoln, brought new life and a fresh energy into a Braves program that desperately needed it. The Braves have one of the league's all around elite players in junior wing Noah Knostman, who won MVP honors at the 270 Hoops Battle for the City in April. Knostman is a talented and chiseled 6-foot-4 wing that will be a terror for defenses this season.

International had one of its better seasons in program history last year as the Lions went 9-12 with a 6-8 mark in league play. Head coach Mike Bell's team will have the biggest frontline in the City and arguably all of Central Ohio with 6-foot-9 senior KJ Jones and 6-foot-9 freshman Pharaoah Zaire. Zaire is a viral sensation, as the Woodward Park Middle School prep star got national recognition for his sheer size and post prowess. If Bell can find quality guard play to compliment his twin tower bigs, International could be a sleeper team in the City and Division III at large.

Finishing at the bottom of the division last year, Centennial and East are respectively looking to turn things around. The Stars struggled in coach Shawn Williams' second season leading the program, finishing 5-18 and tying with East for last in the North division. Williams has reason for optimism in 2023-24, as Centennial has one of the league's best players in junior big man Justin Thomas. Thomas and fellow junior guard Carl Koonce lead a team that should be improved this year.

East was hoping to ride the momentum of an historic football season last year to hardwood success, but unfortunately it didn't work out that way for coach Brian Wofford's squad. The Tigers finished 4-17 last year, but will have renewed optimism in 2023-24. Senior guard Sean Wilkes will be the catalyst of this team, as East hopes to turn things around and restore the roar of a prestigious past.

City League North at a glance


Head coach: Tihon Johnson

'22-23 record: 15-8 (12-2), City League champions

Last CLN title: 2023 (won the division in 2019 and every season from 2007-13, 2015-17)

Storyline for the season: Northland rules the City League, will they now take a step up and contend in Division I?


Head coach: Kevin Darthard II

'22-23 record: 11-12 (9-5)

Last CLN title: 2020 

Storyline for the season: Can the duo of Towns and Darthard mirror the success of Linden's 2022 class?


Head coach: Humphrey Simmons

'22-23 record: 9-12 (6-8)

Last CLN title: 2022 (also won the division in 2021 and 2018)

Storyline for the season: Is a bounce back season in the cards for Beechcroft, who has been a league favorite for most of the last five years?


Head coach: Troy Mundy

'22-23 record: 11-12 (8-6)

Last CLN title: N/A

Storyline for the season: Can Knostman and the Braves cement their place in the top half of the division?


Head coach: Al Jarrett

'22-23 record: 16-7 (11-3)

Last CLN title: 1987

Storyline for the season: Does Mifflin have enough talent left over to contend among the elite in the division in Jarrett's first season at the helm?


Head coach: Mike Bell

'22-23 record: 9-12 (6-8)

Last CLN title: N/A

Storyline for the season: Will the front court duo of Jones and Zaire be a big enough matchup nightmare for International to keep rising in the City League?


Head coach: Shawn Williams

'22-23 record: 5-18 (2-12)

Last CLN title: N/A

Storyline for the season: In a division without much separation after Northland, does Centennial have what it takes to reclaim its spot in the top half of the north?


Head coach: Brian Wofford

'22-23 record: 4-17 (2-12)

Last CLN title: N/A

Storyline for the season: What will it take for East to improve on last year's difficult campaign? 

Recent News