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City League Roundup: Recapping The Week That Was and Looking To The Week Ahead

By Mark Francis Jr., 01/30/24, 8:15AM EST



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After a minimum three-game week and four for some teams, for most teams around the City League, the young men were tired and looking forward to the weekend to have a couple of days off. Every team is back in league action starting Tuesday. 

Heading into the home stretch of City League play, the final picture of the championship game will be basically set at the end of the week. This will be the first in three seasons that the Africentric Nubians will not have both boys and girls competing for the City League championship. The Lady Nubians will take on Centennial February 10th, where the Africentric looks to get their ninth consecutive City League title. 

Take a glimpse of what happened in the action-packed week in the wild ride that is Columbus City League. 

City League North

This Past Week: Still leading the North is the defending champion Northland Vikings, who completed a perfect 4-0 week (the only team that played four games to do so) with a win over SPIRE Academy on Saturday night. Sophomore point guard King Kendrick once again put on a show, scoring 25 points to lead a team missing three starters. Northland defeated International and Mifflin before a tougher than expected 52-39 victory over Centennial on Friday night. In head coach Tihon Johnson’s second season at the helm, he has his team sitting at 13-3 overall, 10-0 in the division and it seems like they are hitting their stride at the right time. 

Next in line is the Linden-McKinley Panthers, who sit in second place in the North and on a 5-game winning streak in the division. They finished their week 3-1 after wins over Mifflin, International and rival East High School. Their only loss came on Saturday at home against Western Hills. Senior point guard Phil Towns had himself a week, averaging close to 28 points per game over the last week that included two 30-point games and a 26-point performance against East. He is steaming hot right now and should be getting more praise than he is at the moment. 

The Beechcroft Cougars also had a 3-1 week, starting with a gutsy 63-57 win over Centennial followed-up by a one-point win at East. They lost a five-point game to Cleveland Heights to end the week with a victory over Mifflin sandwiched in between. 

Centennial had won back-to-back games heading into the week, Beechcroft ended that on Monday but the Stars bounced back Tuesday with a win over Whetstone before the Northland loss ended their week. The Braves picked up two wins this past week as well, taking down East and International. Both East and Mifflin hit skids this week, the Tigers lost all three and Mifflin could not defeat any of their four opponents. 

The Week Ahead: Linden-McKinley and Northland will clash for the final time this season on Friday, this match-up will officially determine who will represent the City League North in the championship game. Due to the rules, if Linden wins and both teams remain tied, the tie-breaker goes to the team who hasn’t made it most recently. The first game had to be moved from Linden to Northland, but this game will be in the Panthers gym and expect the atmosphere to be electric. Believe that the band will be playing, the stands will be filled and it will be loud. 

Northland stood tall in the first game, using their size to control the interior. Behind 25-points and 12 boards from Nehemiah McMorris and 21 from King Kendrick, the Vikings won 77-53. This will be a closer game, as Linden-McKinley is at home and Northland could still be down a couple of starters. Game of the night is written all over this. 

City League South

This Past Week: South High School continued its march towards February 17th at East High School for the City League championship game. The Bulldogs had a 3-0 week, starting with a comeback victory over Africentric, then senior guard Chris Stokes dropped 32 points in a blowout win at Eastmoor on Thursday and finally taking down Marion Franklin on Friday. They are still a perfect 10-0 in the South and 12-3 overall, with a clear path to the City League title game. South High alumni and head coach Ramon Spears has been at the helm since 2010 and has been to two City League championship games, interestingly beating Northland in both 2017 and 2019. 

Second place Walnut Ridge had a 3-1 week, picking up wins over Africentric, Eastmoor and Briggs before falling to Gahanna-Lincoln 66-60. The Scots sit at 10-7 overall and 9-1 in the South Division with one of toughest schedules in Central Ohio, they have tested themselves with tough out-of-conference games almost weekly. Along with Gahanna-Lincoln, the Scots have tested themselves at neutral sites against teams like Lutheran East, Pickerington Central, Dayton Dunbar, and Olentangy Orange, this team is a walking definition of not ducking anything. 

Last season's City League runner-ups, the Africentric Nubians lost back-to-back games to start the week against the top-2 teams in the South Division and ended it with a win at Independence. After being the surprise team of the entire City League, the Marion Franklin Red Devils hit a three-game skid during this week after beating Independence to start the week. Losses at South, at West and at home to Granville on Saturday halted the momentum of a team that had won five-of-six games before the slide began. West High School won two of their three games this past week and beat Franklin Heights by 44 on Monday night. They started by winning their fourth consecutive game over rival Briggs, then got a victory over Marion Franklin before losing the foul fest to Eastmoor Academy on Friday, a game that included the teams combining for 73 total free throws. West, with eight wins, has marked its second highest win total for any season in the last 20 years. Quite the start for first year head coach Ike Jefferson. Both Eastmoor and Briggs picked up one win a piece this past week, Eastmoor finishing the week with a win and the Bruins started the week with one, each team finishing the week 1-4. 

The Week Ahead: Much like the North Division, the biggest game of this upcoming week is being played on Friday when South visits Walnut Ridge. South is firmly in pole position to represent the South Division in the City League championship game, not only having the better record as games fly by, but they also last went to the title game in 2019 while Walnut Ridge went in 2020. This means that as long as South does not lose two games, they will take on the North Division winner on February 17th. 

Also this week, Eastmoor senior point guard will officially be added to the Warriors’ 1,000-point club as he is only 10 points away from the accomplishment. He will join Walnut Ridge senior point guard and Duquesne commit Dom Aekins as the only two players in the City League that were able to reach this feat during this season. He will be letting it fly early and often in their home game against rival Independence.  

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