As the Columbus Academy boys basketball team watched Harvest Prep celebrate its second consecutive Division III district title, coach Jeff Warstler reflected on the Vikings' positive mindset entering the game.
The top-seeded Warriors held off fourth-seeded Academy 71-67 on March 8 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
"We thought we were going to win," said Warstler, whose team finished 20-5 overall. "We don't play games we think we're going to lose. We talked about it (March 7): We thought we were going to win. We're going to win in the fourth quarter. The kids played real hard."
Harvest Prep, which lost to Africentric 54-52 in a state semifinal last season, improved to 24-2 heading into a regional semifinal against Frankfort Adena on Thursday, March 14, at Ohio University.
Academy rallied from an eight-point deficit in the third quarter to take its final lead at 62-60 on senior post player Hayden Compton's three-point play with 3 minutes, 51 seconds remaining.
Harvest Prep took the lead for good on a pair of 3-pointers by Soul Hines, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
Junior guard Carter Warstler led Academy with 20 points, followed by senior post player Dalyn DeCree with 12 and Compton and senior guard Dorrian Moultrie each with 11.
"We came out strong," Moultrie said. "We were confident all the way. We were ready for the game. One of our goals was to the win the district, so to make it to the district final and play a team like Harvest Prep, it is something to be proud of."
Academy reached the district title game with a 47-36 win over seventh-seeded Africentric in a semifinal March 5 at Westerville Central. Moultrie led the Vikings with 14 points and Compton added 10.
Among several highlights this season, Academy won its first outright MSL-Ohio Division title since 2008. It went 6-2 in the league to finish ahead of runner-up Worthington Christian (5-3).
The Vikings last shared a league title in 2012, when they tied Newark Catholic for first at 12-2.
"It was a fantastic season," coach Warstler said. "That league championship was something I'll never forget."
He credited the seven seniors for continuing the program's commitment to excellence.
"We told them we love them," coach Warstler said. "We'll be there for them later on. Whenever they need anything, I'll be here. They'll outlive me, but I'll be here."
Moultrie, who will play football at Georgetown, capped a stellar prep basketball career by being named first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
"I'm excited to get ready for Georgetown," he said. "It was a great four years. People say it's the best four years of your life. I owe a lot to this school and it was a great season."
Moultrie's brother, Herman, is a 2018 Academy graduate who plays football at Georgetown.
Carter Warstler, DeCree and senior wing player Chris Boyle were second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district. Compton was honorable mention all-league.
Other players eligible to return are juniors Andrew Cahill (post player), David Cooperman (wing player), Josh Murry (guard) and Mitch Priest (wing player/post player) and sophomores Brady Hess (guard) and Jared Kass (guard/wing player).