During its last appearance at the state tournament, the Harvest Preparatory School boys basketball team had its hopes of winning its first title end with a 48-46 loss to New Madison Tri-Village in the 2015 Division IV final.
The opportunity to be back on that stage is something sixth-year coach David Dennis knows his players won't forget.
The Warriors play Africentric in a Division III state semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at Ohio State.
"I'm very excited for the guys," Dennis said. "Just to see their jubilance and excitement and to realize their hard work is paying off, it's really emotional for me."
The semifinal winner plays Cleveland Heights Lutheran East or Cincinnati Deer Park in the title game at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Ohio State.
The Warriors beat Wheelersburg 78-60 on March 14 and Sugarcreek Garaway 59-53 in overtime March 17 in the regional tournament at Ohio University and take a 28-0 record into the semifinal.
Africentric beat Archbold 42-39 in a regional final March 17 at Bowling Green to improve to 21-6 and set up the first matchup between the teams since a 2015 regional final, when Harvest Prep beat the Nubians 70-62. The teams also met in a regular-season game that season, with Africentric winning 50-39.
The Warriors were ranked first in this year's final state poll, while Africentric was 10th.
Lutheran East improved to just 14-13 with a 46-37 victory over Canton Central Catholic in a regional final March 17 at Canton Fieldhouse, but it won last year's Division IV state championship.
Deer Park, which was ranked second, improved to 27-0 with a 65-55 win over Madeira in a regional final March 17 at Kettering Fairmont.
Africentric got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Tre' Baumgardner, the district Player of the Year, in its win over Archbold.
"Coach Dennis does a great job with his kids, and congratulations to them for making it back to the final four again," Nubians coach Michael Bates said. "We like the way we're playing right now. I like our mojo, they're loose, they're having fun but they're extremely focused, and that's what it's all about. We have to come out and do what we're doing, hang our hats on the defensive end and move that ball.
"All four teams are on a roll. Harvest Prep is on a 28-game roll, but all the rest of us have won at least six games in a row. It's going to be about who can execute, who can defend and who can get a couple lucky bounces to go their way."
Against Wheelersburg, C.J. Penha had 24 points and C.J. Anthony scored 19 to lead the Warriors, who led 37-27 at halftime and increased their lead to 57-41 by the end of the third quarter.
Isaiah Cumberland added 10 points for Harvest Prep, which overcame a 35-point performance from Wheelersburg's Tanner Holden.
Against Garaway, Penha made two free throws with 11 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.
Then in overtime, Cumberland scored to put Harvest Prep ahead 55-50 and the Warriors made five of six free throws in the closing minutes.
Anthony had 18 points, Brandon Beavers scored 14 and Penha added 11 as the Warriors found their rhythm after trailing 14-11 after the first quarter.
"I knew (Garaway was) going to come out and slow us down," Dennis said. "We had to see exactly what they were going to do, and they do a very good job. We felt like we were in a good position being up four (at halftime)."
Africentric won the 2005 Division IV state title but later had it taken away because of an ineligible player. The Nubians also were state semifinalists in 2011 and '12.
Harvest Prep also was the Division IV state runner-up in 2007 and '11 but later forfeited its wins in 2011.
This will be the Warriors' third state appearance under Dennis. They lost in a semifinal in 2014 before falling in the final a year later.
"(Africentric is) a great team," Dennis said. "They're well-coached. I know they have excellent players and they've been a great program for the last decade. I have much respect for them and what they do. Hopefully, we can come up with a good game plan."