COLUMBUS — The Utica girls basketball team ran into a buzzsaw Friday — Africentric Early College High School.
The Nubians came into the game ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in the nation and took about 20 seconds Friday to show why. They didn’t allow Utica a shot for the first three minutes and cruised to a 72-35 victory in the Division III District finals at Ohio Dominican University.
“Obviously, we were playing one of the top teams in the country. We knew what we had to do, we just had too many turnovers and too many back-side rebounds killed us tonight,” said Utica coach Terry Logue. “Our girls played hard. We just couldn’t match up with them. They (Africentric) can flat out play. And, they are very well coached. Obviously, he (William McKinney) knows what he’s doing.”
Once Utica (15-13) got over its initial jitters, they figured out a way to beat the Nubian press and made a nice run, turning an 11-0 deficit into just four points (11-7). A three-pointer from Shawna Blake got things started for the Redskins.
“We just settled down. If we had settled down the whole game like we did at the end of the first quarter, we would have been fine,” Logue said.
But, that run ended just as quickly as it began. Africentric ran off 23 of the next 26 points to break the game wide open. Utica’s only points in the next six-plus minutes was a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter.
Another buzzer beater, this time a layup from Taylor Heckman, sent the Redskins into the locker room with a little momentum. They had scored the final four points of the second quarter and then came out and Heckman hit a three-pointer to start the third.
But, that’s when the fun ended for the Redskins.
The Nubians (24-0) scored the next 15 points to turn on the running clock and put the game on cruise control.
Emily Londot had a strong game inside for the Redskins, scoring 15 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking five shots. Heckman finished with 13 points, including three triples. Blake hit the one 3-pointer, Scarlett Elliott had two points and three assists, and Sydney Hoover hit two free throws for the Redskins.
“I’m very proud of the girls. We had a nice run. We’re losing three seniors, but we have six of our top players back for next year. That’s what this year was for — to get here and get some experience,” Logue said.
Africentric, the defending state champion, had a nice balanced attack, as four players scored in double figures. Jordan Horston, who has committed to play at Tennessee next year, led the team with 18 points and five assists. Alexia Smith added 16 points, while Sakima Walker had 12 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. Maliyah Johnson checked in with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Nubians will head to regionals this Wednesday where they will play the winner of Margaretta and Seneca East.
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