For the ninth time in program history, the Africentric Early College girls basketball team is headed to the state tournament.

The Nubians rallied late in regulation and then edged Berlin Hiland 61-60 in overtime to capture a Division III regional championship March 10 at Marietta College.

“It was an instant classic,” coach Will McKinney said.

Africentric improved to 25-3 and advanced to play Ottawa-Glandorf in a state semifinal March 15 at Ohio State. The Nubians were ranked sixth in the final state poll, while Ottawa-Glandorf was ninth.

Africentric trailed Hiland by six points with 1 minute, 19 seconds left, but, according to McKinney, got key baskets by Tearra Cook, Alexia Smith and Jordan Horston to force overtime.

“In overtime, we came out of the box and scored right away,” McKinney said.

Nyam Thornton led the Nubians with 19 points. Maliyah Johnson scored 13, Horston scored 12 and Smith added 10 as Africentric improved to 4-4 all-time against Hiland.

The Nubians lost in a state semifinal last season, but captured state titles in 2007, ’09, ’12, ’14 and ’16 and were state runners-up in 2008 and ’13.