STATE CHAMPIONS

With 4.2 seconds left in a Division III state semifinal against Africentric a year ago, Soul Hines' 3-point attempt went off the back of the rim and the Harvest Preparatory School boys basketball team fell 54-52 for its only loss of the season.

The Warriors used that disappointment as fuel to make a return trip to the state tournament this season and didn't let that opportunity pass them by, beating Cincinnati Purcell Marian 48-41 in a semifinal March 21 and Cleveland Heights Lutheran East 55-42 in the final March 23 at Ohio State to win their first championship.

"We were new to it last year, but it paid off having the same team," said Hines, a senior guard. "We didn't want to leave how we did last year. It just made us a whole lot more hungry this year. We knew what we needed to do, and when times got hard, we stayed composed. We knew our roles and everybody had to do their roles and do what we had to do."

Hines, one of eight seniors in the program, made all four of his field-goal attempts and each of his three free throws while scoring 13 points in the state final to help lead Harvest Prep, which finished 28-2.

The only non-senior to play in the state final for the Warriors was junior guard Christopher Anthony, who was named Division III state Player of the Year early last week.

Although Anthony made just six of 15 shots and was 1-for-4 from the free-throw line against Purcell Marian, he scored five of his 17 points in the third quarter to help the Warriors take a 32-29 lead into the fourth quarter.

Harvest Prep advanced to the state final despite making just 17 of 41 shots from the floor, including only five of 16 3-pointers, and scoring a season-low 48 points against the Cavaliers.

In the title game, the Warriors made 18 of 34 shots from the floor and went 7-for-17 from 3-point range, with Anthony leading the way with 21 points and five rebounds.

Harvest Prep was outrebounded 35-27 but limited Lutheran East to 2-for-26 shooting from 3-point range.

"We played some very good teams this year and Lutheran East was very good, but our boys executed the game plan, made plays, had heart, were motivated and didn't want to be denied," coach David Dennis Sr. said. "They say defense wins championships, and that's what we did. We were definitely undersized, but we never really let them get into a rhythm. I thought they did a good job today.

"(Being at state last season) definitely helped. We've been talking about believing in each other. I told them, 'Don't be cocky but be confident.' We really believe we can't have two bad games (shooting) back-to-back. We really believe that if we miss a shot, the next one's going to go in."

Anthony averaged 25 points and was named district Player of the Year. He finished the season with more than 1,500 career points.

Senior guard Brandon Beavers, who averaged 10.5 points and was third-team all-district, played a major role in limiting Purcell Marian's Alex Dotson, a second-team all-state honoree, to three points.

Senior forward Elijah Glenn also was third-team all-district while averaging 11.5 points.

Other key seniors included guards Avonti Duncan and Raymond Robertson.

Harvest Prep's only losses came against Kettering Fairmont, 73-67 on Dec. 29 in the Joe Machens Great 8 Classic in Jefferson City, Missouri, and Michigan City (Indiana) Marquette, 57-56 on Jan. 3. Fairmont was a Division I district runner-up.

The Warriors, who closed the season on a 20-game winning streak, were making their sixth state tournament appearance. They were state runners-up in 2007, '11 and '15.

Dennis Sr. served as Harvest Prep's girls coach for five seasons before taking over the boys program prior to the 2013-14 season. He has a 139-26 record in six seasons with the boys team.

"It's amazing," Dennis Sr. said. "I've been at Harvest Prep for 11 years, five years for the girls and six for the boys, and it's what they asked me to do. It's big for our school, our program and (World Harvest Church). This team earned it. They had a goal in mind, a mission in mind, and we played better and stayed together."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek