CINCINNATI — DePaul Cristo Rey boys basketball coach Randy Cornelius couldn't be happier for the Bruins' journey this winter.
The team chemistry and cohesiveness have been special, and it's evident each time players appear on the court.
"(The players) are all friends," Cornelius said.
DePaul Cristo Rey won its fourth consecutive Ohio Christian School Athletic Association regional championship this past weekend. The Bruins defeated Dominion Academy (of Dayton) 43-29.
Friday night will be the fifth final four trip in six seasons for the Bruins (23-3), who play Elyria First Baptist Christian at 7:30 p.m. in a state semifinal at Ohio Christian University in Circleville.
The winner of the state semifinal plays New Hope or Calvary Christian in the state final at 5 p.m. Saturday. There is also a consolation game Saturday afternoon.
DePaul Cristo Rey, located next to Cincinnati State, was third at state in 2019 after being a 2018 state runner-up and third in 2017. The Bruins are hungry for another opportunity.
The team is led by several players including senior 6-foot-3 center Jurrien Nelson, who averages 14 points and 12 rebounds, according to Cornelius. Nelson also has a program-record 70 wins during his career.
Junior guard Happy Ciza averages 12 points, six steals and four assists.
The Bruins won the Ohio Valley Christian Conference for a fourth consecutive year.
"Our defense and our team unity (have been key)," Cornelius said. "We play a lot of man-to-man pressure defense."
Cornelius also credited his two assistant coaches, Jeff Birkofer and Casey Troutman. Former University of Cincinnati standout Melvin Levett also gave an inspirational talk to the team before the regional final including some insight about the late Kobe Bryant.