Taking advantage of its opportunities to grow was paramount in the way the Harvest Preparatory School boys basketball team put its schedule together this season, especially when factoring in its league limitations.
The Warriors are 5-0 in the MSL-Cardinal Division and have won their league games by an average of 46.8 points. One of those victories was a 90-40 rout of Zanesville Rosecrans, which was ranked ninth in last week's Division IV state poll, on Dec. 22.
Harvest Prep's league game against Fisher Catholic on Jan. 12 at home was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Jan. 28. Fisher Catholic received votes in the opening Division IV state poll.
To help offset what could be perceived as a weak league schedule, Harvest Prep competed in the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic from Dec. 27-29 in Jefferson City, Missouri, and traveled to Hammond, Indiana, on Jan. 2 and 3 for a pair of games against opponents from Indiana.
The Warriors, who are 9-2 overall and were third in last week's Division III state poll, play a league game Friday, Jan. 18, at Wellington before continuing their non-league slate Monday, Jan. 21, by traveling to Kettering Fairmont to face Middletown Madison in Flyin' to the Hoop.
Wellington lost to Harvest Prep 81-52 on Dec. 8 but has a 1,000-point career scorer in senior Dallas Patrick, while Madison received votes in last week's Division III state poll.
"We've played some very good teams," coach David Dennis Sr. said. "We've played schools that are ranked in the top of the state. I think we've learned a lot about ourselves offensively and defensively. We've learned a lot about continuity. We were challenged, so that's allowed us to see how we're going to react."
The Warriors lost to Fairmont 73-67 on Dec. 29 in the championship game of the Great 8 Classic and lost to Michigan City (Indiana) Marquette Catholic 57-56 on Jan. 3.
On Jan. 8 in a 95-24 league victory over Millersport, junior guard Christopher Anthony had 24 points, including three of the Warriors' 16 3-pointers.
"We've had great shooting, and being coachable is our main thing, being disciplined, especially on defense," senior wing player Brandon Beavers said. "We have unfinished business and we're all just going to try to get the job done. The main thing is guys stepping up and playing their roles."
Anthony has increased his scoring average from 20 points last season when Harvest Prep reached a state semifinal to 25 this winter.
Senior forward Elijah Glenn is averaging 12.3 points, followed by Beavers (11.8), senior forward Andrew Tate (8.9), senior wing player Soul Hines (8.0), senior forward Raymond Robertson (6.5) and senior guard Avonti Duncan (5.5).
"We can't get satisfied," Anthony said. "We've got to keep grinding for everything we've got. We've been listening, learning and grinding and it's paying off. It really helps out that everybody mostly came back and everybody's hungry and ready to go. We've been jelling together really well, really bonding and we haven't lost a beat."