Despite falling behind by double digits in the first quarter of a Division III district final March 6 at Ohio Dominican, the top-seeded and defending state champion Harvest Prep boys basketball team is headed back to the regional tournament.

Led by Christopher Anthony’s 23 points, including a pair of last-second free throws, Harvest Prep edged second-seeded Worthington Christian 49-47 for the district title.

Harvest Prep improved to 22-3 and advanced to play Chillicothe Zane Trace in a regional semifinal March 11 at Ohio University, while Worthington Christian finished 20-5.

After Harvest Prep’s Mario Davis tied the game at 47 with two minutes remaining, his team got the ball back with 1:25 to go and held it for the last shot.

Harvest Prep called timeouts with 23.9 seconds left and 7.1 seconds remaining to set up a final play, which went to Anthony for a 3-point attempt. His shot didn’t fall, but he was fouled with .7 of a second left and made two of three free-throw attempts.

Then on Worthington Christian’s ensuing inbounds play, Anthony stole the ball to seal the victory.

“There was 7 seconds left and the coach had trust in me, so I was ready for that moment,” Anthony said. “I felt like I could have made the shot. Me and my dad work on free throws all the time, so that’s not a problem.”

Tyler Kindberg and Derrick Hardin had 15 points apiece and D.J. Moore added 11 for Worthington Christian, which scored the game’s first six points and built a 17-4 lead late in the first quarter before Harvest Prep closed to within 17-8.

In the second period, Worthington Christian stretched its advantage to 23-9 before Harvest Prep answered with an 11-0 run that included six points from Anthony.

Worthington Christian led 28-23 at halftime, but Harvest Prep took its first lead at 34-32 with 2:15 left in the third period. However, Worthington Christian closed the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 41-34 lead.

Anthony converted a three-point play to begin the fourth quarter.

“We thought we had to keep the score in the 40s or low 50s to win and we did that,” Worthington Christian coach Kevin Weakley said. “We really executed our game plan. We watched (Anthony’s 3-point attempt) on film in the locker room (right after the game) and it was a tough (play), but it is what it is.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek