The Northland High School boys basketball team is heading back to the Division I state tournament for the third time in five seasons.
A 13-0 run during the third quarter gave Northland a nine-point lead, and the Vikings went on to beat Gahanna Lincoln 62-53 in a regional final March 16 in the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Northland improves to 28-0 and will play Mentor at 5:15 p.m. March 22 at Ohio State. The Vikings were state champions in 2009 and state runners-up in 2011.
“When you see the end in sight, you just start playing with some energy,” coach Sean Taylor said. “We just fight.”
Gahanna, who finished 22-6, led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter and 27-23 by halftime.
Senior guard Ronnie Stokes made a pair of free throws and junior forward Javon Bess scored to give Gahanna a 35-31 lead with 4 minutes, 5 seconds left in the third quarter.
Northland scored the next 13 points and led 44-37 heading into the final quarter.
Gahanna got as close as 46-42 midway through the fourth quarter, but Northland hit 12 of 14 free throws during the final three minutes.
The Lions outrebounded the Vikings 40-30, but shot just 16 of 51 (31 percent) from the floor.
Senior forward Armani Towns had 20 points and seven rebounds and junior teammate Ty Hairston (guard) had 10 points for Northland.
Bess led Gahanna with 20 points and 14 rebounds.