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Taft boys basketball team wants to complete the 'revenge tour' with a state championship

Senators play in a state semifinal Friday
Posted at 3:26 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 18:07:15-04

CINCINNATI — The Taft High School boys basketball team is hungry for redemption during the state tournament this weekend in Dayton.

Nearly a year after the Senators lost to Worthington Christian on a buzzer-beater, Taft is poised for a different outcome in the Division III state semfinal Friday afternoon.

"We've been here before," Taft senior point guard Mekhi Elmore said. "Last year we did not finish the job. But, this year we just want to complete the mission: The revenge tour."

The first step is 2 p.m. Friday when Taft (17-8) plays defending state champion Cleveland Heights Lutheran East (16-9) at University of Dayton Arena.

The winner plays either Columbus Africentric (23-5) or Ottawa-Glandorf (24-2) in the state final at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.

Sunday can wait for now.

Taft coach Demarco Bradley told his team during practice Tuesday afternoon that the state final could be the greatest day in his players' lives. But, the Senators have to get to that point and not worry about anything outside the team.

"It's been elite mindset all year," Bradley said. "I'm glad that we play Lutheran East because in order to be the champs you have to beat the champs."

Bradley is no stranger to the state tournament. He was an assistant coach during Taft's 2011 Division III state championship team and won two state titles as a Woodward High School student.

"Taft is everything to me," Bradley said. "Taft basketball means the world to me right now. I'm the happiest guy in America because this is where I go to give back."

The Senators are led by several players including Elmore, who averages 12.2 points, 6.1 assists and 2.2 rebounds. He's received interest from North Carolina State, Norfolk State, Tulane, Tulsa and Radford, according to Bradley.

Junior guard/forward Rayvon Griffith - one of the nation's top players in the 2023 class - averages 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

He is considering Louisville, South Carolina, University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Arizona State, Alabama and Kansas among his finalists.

Griffth's college recruiting can wait. He said last year's loss made him cherish every moment during a season and not to take anything for granted. A state title would be very significant to Griffith and his teammates.

"It would mean everything because if we win a state championship you know it's going to be with Taft forever," Griffith said. "It's going to be with us forever. We set a legacy here at Taft. Blessed to be here, blessed to get another opportunity because it doesn't come for everybody."

Taft is also led by senior guard Brandon Cromer (11 ppg., 3.1 rpg), junior forward Eian Elmer (8.1 ppg., 7.4 rpg.) and freshman forward Kieran Granville-Britten (7.5 ppg., 10.4 rpg.).

The Senators take a great deal of pride in being the lone Greater Cincinnati representative in the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament this weekend.

Bradley said this week is also an opportunity to highlight how his team has made a significant effort academically, too.

"Out of 12 guys I've got nine guys on the honor roll," Bradley said. "That's where it starts in the classroom.The guys have been working very hard. And I learned a favorite saying from Bob Huggins: 'If you do well on the court it will carry off the court.'"

Cincinnati Public Schools Athletics Manager Josh Hardin said CPS and the entire city is very happy to support Taft and its memorable journey this week.

"Coach Bradley and the boys have been preparing for this moment for a year and they are ready for the challenge ahead and they know the city is behind them," Hardin said. "We hope to see everyone in Cincinnati take a half day on Friday and head up to UD at 2 p.m. to support our Taft Senators get back to the state championship."

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