NEWARK, Ohio -- Jordan Horston and the Africentric Lady Nubians have waited a long time for this. After dropping back-to-back meetings to Newark in 2017 and 2018, Horston and the Nubians got revenge on Monday.
Thanks to a hustle rebound and bucket in the final seconds from junior guard Alexia Smith, Africentric (18-0) powered over Newark (18-2) at the iconic Jim Allen Gymnasium, 47-45.
Dropping three of its last four meetings to the Wildcats, including two on the road, Africentric survived a late rally from Newark to pull off the win.
In a fourth quarter of intense runs, Africentric gave up a 36-31 lead that it held going into the period. Newark opened up on an 8-0 run in the first four minutes of the quarter, as a tough spinning finish from sophomore Emma Shumate put the Wildcats ahead 39-36 with 3:54 to go.
This was where Smith made her mark on the game. Knocking down a corner three to tie the game, the junior guard then forced a steal, leading to a Horston bucket to power a 7-0 run that put Africentric ahead 43-39 with 2:52 remaining.
Newark was not fazed however.
Behind senior wing Katie Shumate, the Wildcats responded with a 6-2 run over the next two and a half minutes.
Shumate hit a left wing three with 17.2 seconds to go, sparked from an offensive rebound from her sister and sophomore Emma Shumate, which tied Monday's mega matchup at 45.
With Africentric appearing to hold the ball for the final shot, the opposite happened, as Horston drove hard down the lane for a potential game-winning shot. As Horston's attempt hit hard off the glass, Smith stepped up once again, grabbing the key offensive rebound and laying in the go-ahead finish with 6.5 seconds to go.
Newark was unable to get a final shot off, as Katie Shumate fumbled the ball out of bounds on the final possession to allow Africentric to escape with a gritty win.
While the McDonalds All-American Horston had a strong showing with 16 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and three steals, Smith's impact in the fourth quarter cannot go overshadowed. Plucking away two steals, scoring five key points and grabbing every 50/50 ball, Smith made the type of clutch plays to come away with the win.
Horston was still solid, however, finishing with a double-double and proving to be the one woman wrecking crew that she is on the defensive perimeter. The front line of the Nubians could not be contained, as junior center Sakima Walker added 12 points on primarily interior scores. Walker's length at 6-foot-5 made a major impact, as Newark could not get many easy looks inside, while giving up a few crucial interior scores to the junior.
Sophomore Arianna Smith added eight points while Alexia Smith finished with seven. Sophomore wing Maliya Johnson added four points and five rebounds in the win for Nubians.
For Newark, Katie Shumate had a stellar game, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds and three assists. Shumate came alive in the fourth quarter with nine of her 15 points in the period. We were impressed with the 5-foot-10 wing's ability to handle the ball, rebound and create.
Senior guard Morgan Sharps added 11 points on three triples for the Wildcats, as Newark was held to just five three-point field goals.
Rounding out the scoring for Newark was junior post Gabby Stare who added eight points, while sophomore guard Peyton Lunsford pitched in six points and eight rebounds, with most of her production coming in the first half.
Sophomore Emma Shumate added five points, all in the fourth quarter, in addition to three rebounds and three assists.
Neither team had a single bench point on Monday, as the starting rotations played for the vast majority of the game.
Rolling at 18-0, Africentric will play at Walnut Ridge on Wednesday before taking on Northland in the City League Championship on Saturday.
For Newark, the Wildcats have three games in the next five days, none bigger than Saturday's matchup at Pickerington Central, which will pit the top two seeds in the Division I district tournament against one another in what could be a regional final preview.
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