CINCINNATI — At Purcell Marian, it’s all aboard for Columbus.
It’s been 34 years since the boys basketball team won the Ohio state basketball tournament, and the school is going all out to win again.
Thursday classes were canceled, and the entire student body and staff will bus to Columbus in the morning in a unique show of support for the Cavaliers’ semifinal game.
"Our board of trustees stepped up and said if the boys get to go to Columbus, then we're going to take everybody to Columbus,” Principal Andy Farfsing said.
Farsing led a pep rally Wednesday with players and classmates cheering as they marched through the halls.
"How we gonna do it? Together!" Farfsing shouted to get the party started.
Senior guard Clarke Jefferson spoke briefly, setting off loud cheers.
"We appreciate all y'all, love all y'all and we going to go get this job done for y'all. State!” Jefferson said.
The players are noticeably pumped up, too.
"It means a lot. I feel like we're making history," said senior center AJ Garrett.
"To be headed to Columbus and go play in the state tournament, it's really exciting and everybody's spirits are high right now," added Jefferson.
"We just won regionals since like 19 years and we just accomplished that, so it means a lot. So, I want more to this," added Garrett.
The Cavaliers (24-4) play Canal Winchester Prep (26-2) at noon Thursday in the Ohio Division III semifinals.
“Most of us on the team, we've been here since we've been freshmen and this is what everybody works for. So, for us to be here it's just a great feeling," said senior point guard Alex Dotson.
Farfsing has waited much longer than the students for this moment. He's also a Purcell Marian alum.
"We didn't get to do anything this fun back in '95,” Farfsing exclaimed, “but here we are, 2019 and going to state."
The players appreciate the support.
“To know this time everybody's going to be there when it really matters, it's very important," Jefferson said.
The team was scheduled to bus to Columbus Wednesday night. Everyone else will bus up Thursday morning.
If they win Thursday, the Cavaliers play for the state title Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m.
Farfsing said if they win the semifinal they'll come back to Cincinnati and have another party to get ready for Saturday’s championship game.
Mike Dyer previews Thursday's game