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Wednesday night recap: Africentric, Brookhaven win thrillers in frantic night in Central Ohio

A day after it was officially announced that Brookhaven High School will close after the school year, the Bearcats headlined a crazy night in Central Ohio with a buzzer-beating victory over South.

Jaquan Harrison was a major factor late for Africentric in a district championship win over Fairfield Christian
Jaquan Harrison was a major factor late for Africentric in a district championship win over Fairfield Christian
Scarberry Media

In an action-packed Wednesday night of hoops in Central Ohio, let's take a look at all the top games in the area. With Division I and Division II district semifinal play going on, Africentric and Fairfield Christian battled for a Division IV district title.

Brookhaven uses buzzer beater to overcome South and stay alive, literally.

In what could have been Brookhaven's final game in a prestigious program history, the Bearcats found a way to stay alive in a 51-50 victory over South. As a three-point play from South gave the Bulldogs a 50-49 lead with 5.5 seconds to go, Brookhaven struck back on the game's final possession, as senior savior Ronnie Williams' game-winning drive gave the Bearcats a 51-50 lead and kept the Brookhaven program alive for just one more game.

Williams led all Brookhaven scorers with 13 points, as his game-winning lay-in was his only two-point field goal of the night. Outside of Williams, junior forward J-Saun Davis added nine points, while junior shooting guard Shad Kimble added eight points. Coming into the fourth quarter trailing 35-32, Brookhaven used a 17-13 fourth quarter to take down the Bulldogs to advance to a third-straight district championship against Bishop Watterson.

For South, senior guard Chris Byrd led all scorers with 19 points. No other South played added more than six points, as the Bulldogs wrap up yet another postseason with late-game heartbreak. Only a few years removed from being among the worst of the City League South, South finishes the season with a 16-9 record.

Harrison's coast-to-coast score propels Africentric over Fairfield Christian for Division IV district title

Entering the fourth quarter trailing 42-30, Africentric used a 19-4 fourth quarter run to steal a Division IV district title from Fairfield Christian, 49-46. Leading the way for Africentric in the final frame was junior small forward Jaquan Harrison, whose coast-to-coast game-winning score gave the Nubians a 47-46 lead with four seconds to go. Harrison's driving score came seconds after Fairfield Christian had taken a 46-45 lead with seven seconds remaining.

Leading the way for Africentric was sophomore combo-guard Houston Smith, whose 17 points were a team-high and much-needed confidence boost for the talented Smith. Harrison finished with 14 points, none bigger than his six points in the final five minutes of play.

After starting the season with four consecutive losses, Africentric has made a tremendous run to a district title behind the junior Harrison. On a team with questionable leadership and chemistry at times, Harrison has taken a larger leadership role in the last few weeks, and had arguably his most clutch performance of his career on Wednesday.

For Fairfield Christian, high-scoring senior Steven Carpenter led all scorers with 22 points. Fairfield led by as many as 15 points in the second half on Wednesday, but just did not have enough down the stretch to top the fourth-seeded Nubians.

Division I Recap

Upper Arlington 55, Grove City 45

Using a 19-7 second quarter to take a 31-21 lead into the half, Upper Arlington held on to defeat Grove City to advance to a district final. Leading all scorers was senior guard Kevin Vannatta with 14 points, while senior point guard Danny Hummer added 10.

Upper Arlington stifled Grove City defensively, as Greyhounds leading scorer Nic Bapst was held to just 11 points, nearly half his season average. No other Grove City player added more than eight points as the Greyhounds finish out a rather successful season.

With the win, Upper Arlington improves to 23-1 and advances to face No. 2 Gahanna on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Dublin Coffman 50, Walnut Ridge 47

After allowing an 11-0 run to begin the third quarter, Dublin Coffman struck back with an 11-0 run of their own to head into the fourth quarter, tied at 34 with Walnut Ridge.

Junior Coffman guard C.J. Saunders led all Rocks scorers with 13 points, while senior guard Nate Axelrod added nine points. Coffman enjoyed a size advantage in the post and took full control of the offensive glass as junior power forward Noah Vollmer had a productive evening off the bench, going for seven points, four rebounds and three blocks. Playing excellent interior defense, Coffman made it hard for Walnut Ridge to score on the inside on Wednesday.

For Walnut Ridge, sophomore power forward Malik Harrison went for 16 points and eight rebounds, having a very efficient night on limited touches. Senior guard Brandon Paschal had an all-around productive performance, totaling five points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Similar to the Columbus City League Championship loss to Brookhaven, Walnut Ridge was not able to execute well enough down the stretch to pull out a key victory late in the season.

With the win, Dublin Coffman advances to the district finals to square off with No. 5 Newark on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Westerville Central 79, Delaware 69

Led by senior wing Eric James' game-high 30 points, Westerville Central held off No. 10 Delaware late to advance to the district finals with a 79-69 win. James went for 22 points in the second half, converting on 7-of-9 free throws down the stretch to give the Warhawks a major victory.

Aside from James' 30 points, senior forward Kwamel Wade had an impressive performance for the Warhawks, finishing with 20 points and nine rebounds. Seniors Jalen Malone and TJ Pannell each added nine points for the Warhawks who shot 24-of-31 from the free-throw line.

For Delaware Hayes, junior forward Khalil Iverson wrapped up a breakout season in Central Ohio with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Tyler Treese and Noble Moore combined to score 27 points for the Pacers, who converted 10 three-point field goals to stay within contention on Wednesday night.

With the win, Westerville Central advances to a district championship to square off with No. 1 Northland at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Pickerington Central 89, Marysville 83

Behind a career-high 33 points from senior guard Connor Kern, Pickerington Central held off Marysville on Wednesday in an 89-83 district semifinal victory.

Outside of Kern's 33 points, junior combo-guard Rodney Culver added 22 points for the Tigers, who advance to their third-straight district championship. Jumping out to a 50-30 lead at halftime, Pickerington Central held off high-scoring Marysville senior Logan Roston and the Monarchs in a fourth quarter in which the Tigers were outscored 32-21. Roston also scored 33 points, wrapping up a highly successful season for the unsigned senior guard.

With the win, Pickerington Central improves to 19-5 on the season, and advances to a district final matchup with No. 4 Zanesville on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Coliseum. Zanesville comes into Saturday at 24-1 and rolling off the momentum of a big win over Westerville South on Tuesday.

Division II Recap

Eastmoor 61, Centennial 54

Led by senior forward Nate Jameson's 22 points, Eastmoor kept Centennial at a distance on Wednesday as the Stars looked to claw back in the fourth quarter. Jameson's 15 second half points made the difference for the Warriors who advance to a district championship matchup with Bloom-Carroll on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Outside of Jameson, senior forward Shamonty Manning added 11 points, in addition to cleaning up the glass en route to the Warriors' district semifinal victory. Junior point guard Xavier Holston-Sims had an impressive all-around showing, excelling on the perimeter defensively while facilitating the majority of Eastmoor's second half offense, in addition to scoring nine points.

For Centennial, junior forward Joseph Thomas led all Stars with 21 points. Thomas excelled around the basket, but didn't look to be entirely dialed in for stretches in the fourth quarter. Outside of Thomas, senior guard Gyai Gyamerah added 14 points, 12 of which from behind-the-arc. Gymaerah's perimeter shooting was instrumental in Centennial's repeated attempts to climb out of a 27-22 halftime deficit.

Bishop Watterson 76, Bexley 51

Behind 59 combined points from Andy Grieser, Matt Hughes and Matt Lehmann, Bishop Watterson rolled over Bexley in a 76-51 district semifinal victory. Grieser's 22 points were a game-high for the Eagles who look to secure a second-straight district championship over Brookhaven.

Heading into halftime with 33-23 advantage, Bishop Watterson increased the pressure in the second half to dispatch a young Bexley squad. Outside of the Eagles' Big Three, senior forward Joe DiOrio added nine points, while senior point guard Cody Calhoun added six points of his own.

For Bexley, senior forward Sam Nolan scored a team-high 16 points, ending a successful senior season, as Nolan was one of the area's leading scorers. Outside of Nolan, junior guard Niejel Young added 14 points, while no other Bexley scorer finished with more than six points.

With the win, Watterson advances to a district final vs. Brookhaven on Friday at 6 p.m. After taking down the Bearcats on the road in a game that the Bearcats controlled for the majority of the contest, Saturday's district final should be one for the ages as Watterson looks to defend its state title, while the Bearcats look to keep its program alive.

Bloom-Carroll 50, Johnstown 37

Behind senior guard Joey Schmitz' 28 points, including all 14 of his team's points in the first quarter, Bloom-Carroll advanced to the district finals with a 50-37 win over Johnstown.

Schmitz and fellow senior Brandon Manley led the way for Bloom-Carroll, as the senior duo's combined 38 points outscored all of Johnstown. Heading into halftime tied at 23, Bloom-Carroll used a 16-6 fourth quarter to open up a manageable lead to secure the win.

For Johnstown, talented sophomore post Jason Carter led the way with 20 points. Usual high-scoring senior guard Will Orr was held to just five points, a development in Wednesday's game that allowed Bloom-Carroll to open up a sizable lead.

With the win, Bloom-Carroll advances to play Eastmoor for a district championship on Friday at 8 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.

Division IV Recap

Harvest Prep 56, Newark Catholic 50

Harvest Prep used a balanced-scoring attack on Wednesday to avenge an early-season loss to Newark Catholic in a district final matchup on Wednesday, taking down the Green Wave, 56-50.

Dana Coffee's 18 points were a team-high for the Warriors, as junior guard David Dennis was held under his average, going for 15 points. Heading into halftime with a 23-20 lead, Harvest Prep kept its foot on the gas in dispatching Newark Catholic on Wednesday.

For Newark Catholic, senior big man Connor Keck led the way with a game-high 27 points. Outside of Keck, no other Newark Catholic scorer added more than eight points as the Green Wave end its season at 20-7.