COLUMBUS (AP) — Leah Morrow had a simple explanation for Columbus Africentric’s turnaround from a halftime deficit to a 59-37 victory over Marion Pleasant in the Division III state championship game Saturday at Value City Arena.
“We came out with the win because we did what we do,” Morrow said after scoring 12 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
And what do the Nubians (24-5) do?
“We go to the basket and get fouls,” Morrow said.
After trailing 23-19 at the half, the Nubians opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run.
Africentric freshman guard Jordan Horston had six of her 11 points during the spurt, and the Spartans never recovered. Marion Pleasant committed 36 turnovers against a smothering press and lost their first appearance in a state championship game.
“That’s the thing about a team like Africentric,” Marion Pleasant coach Nate Dendinger said. “They’re just able to pressure you relentlessly at the defensive end, and then once they get the lead they’re able to pull the basketball out if you’re in a zone and force you to expend more energy. Our girls were just beat by the end of the game.”
Kynnedy Azubike led Africentric with 15 points while Kamryn Kimmel led Marion Pleasant (27-3) with nine.
Nubians coach Will McKinney acknowledged he had to remind his team at halftime how it got to the championship game but then credited his players for getting the job done.
“Sometimes I don’t know what happens out there but the young ladies kind of get their own thought process on things,” McKinney said. “They were jacking up 3s and I told them at halftime to just relax and take their time and finish plays because we did a good job of turning them over in the first half, but we were not just finishing plays.”
McKinney also coached the Nubians to state titles in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2014 with runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2013.