VANDALIA, Ohio — The Taft High School boys basketball team is going to the state tournament next weekend in Dayton.
And the special journey continues for the Senators this season.
Taft returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2011, when it won the Division III state title.
On Saturday, Taft defeated Springfield Shawnee 63-39 in a Division III regional final Saturday afternoon at Vandalia Butler.
"This is a great victory for our players, families and Taft community," Taft coach Demarco Bradley said.
"There is so much work and adversity to overcome to get here. However, the job is not complete. We are going to Dayton to cut down the nets."
Taft (16-4) advances to play Worthington Christian (27-1) in a state semifinal at 5 p.m. on March 19 at University of Dayton Arena.
The Division III state final is scheduled for 2 p.m. on March 21 at UD Arena.
"This regional title is an opportunity to showcase not only Taft kids but CPS kids," Taft athletic director Romell Salone said. "To be in the final four again as a program is always a goal. With all the ups and downs of the last 12 months our school community has been nothing but supportive. We have a great group of kids. Their determination to stay committed with all the uncertainties is unreal."
Senior Yacco Nelson led Taft in scoring with 16 points on Saturday. Junior Brandon Cromer added 15 points and sophomore Rayvon Griffith had 12 points.
"Our kids demonstrated tremendous effort in all facets of the game," Bradley said. "The character of this team is the reason we are in the position to win our second state championship. We have a dynamic young leader in Rayvon Griffith coupled with a group of seniors that will go down as one of Taft's greatest classes of all time."
Next weekend will mark the second state tournament trip for the program in school history. Taft won the Division III state title nearly 10 years ago on March 26, 2011.
"We look forward to competing and having the opportunity to bring home another state championship for Taft, CPS and the West End," Salone said.
The entire Cincinnati Public Schools district is supporting Taft on its journey.
"Cincinnati Public Schools and the Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference are so proud of our Taft Senators on their regional championship victory," CPS athletics manager Josh Hardin said. "This has been a special year from the start for this group that are charged by their senior class, a strong all-around group of hard-working young men with one of the best sophomores in the country in Rayvon Griffith. We all know this has been a different year filled with masks, social distancing and trying times, but this group has been resilient and the city of Cincinnati is going to come out in full force to support the Taft Senators."