The Harvest Preparatory School boys basketball team never doubted that it would bounce back offensively as it prepared for the Division III state championship game against Cleveland Heights Lutheran East.
Coming off a poor shooting performance in their state semifinal win, the Warriors made six of their first 14 shots from 3-point range to build a double-digit cushion and never let the Falcons back within striking distance March 23 at Ohio State.
Harvest Prep captured its first championship with a 55-42 victory, finishing with a 28-2 record.
“I don’t remember us having any times where we shot bad one game and shot bad the next game,” junior guard Christopher Anthony said. “If we shoot bad one game, we’re going to shoot it well the next game.”
It certainly helped the Warriors that Lutheran East, which won a state title in 2017 and was a state semifinalist a season ago, went just 2-for-26 from 3-point range.
The Falcons, who finished 20-9, outrebounded the Warriors 35-27 and outscored Harvest Prep 18-5 in second-chance points.
Still, the Warriors limited Lutheran East to 3-for-16 shooting overall in the first quarter while building a 16-8 lead and never led by fewer than eight points in the final three quarters.
Harvest Prep got a 3-pointer late in the third quarter from Elijah Glenn to take a 43-32 lead into the final period. Lutheran East closed to within 44-36 with 6 minutes, 41 seconds remaining, but the Warriors got a three-point play from Anthony with 6:23 left to stretch the lead back to double digits.
“We’ve seen tape where (Lutheran East has) shot it very well and we’ve seen tape where they didn’t shoot it very well at all,” coach David Dennis Sr. said. “Our plan was to let them shoot and that they’d have to make them.
“We knew we had to hit them first. If they’d have hit us first, it would have given them a little bit of swag, so we said we had to come out firing, and once we got that lead, it was about us maintaining. If we miss a shot, we still had that seven- to eight-point lead. Our goal coming in was to come out and be aggressive, set the tone for what we wanted to do.”
Harvest Prep, which was state runner-up three times and lost in a state semifinal last season, got 21 points from Anthony, 14 from Glenn and 13 from Soul Hines.
Lutheran East, which had no seniors play in the state final, was led by Nehamiah Benson’s 13 points.
“What a game, what a year,” Dennis Sr. said. “Words can’t really say how we feel right now.”