Not being involved in a tight game for almost two months didn't prevent the Harvest Prep boys basketball team from knowing what to do in the most crucial moment of its Division III district final against Worthington Christian on March 6 at Ohio Dominican.
Having the Central District's all-time leading scorer to rely on simplified things.
With the game tied at 47, Harvest Prep got the ball with 1 minute, 25 seconds left and held for the last shot.
The two-time defending district champion called timeout with 7.1 seconds to go and set up a play for senior guard Christopher Anthony, who subsequently was fouled on a 3-point attempt with .7 of a second left.
Anthony, who had made his previous 14 free-throw attempts, missed the first but hit the final two to give his team a two-point lead. He then stole the ensuing inbounds pass as Harvest Prep held on for a 49-47 win.
"We just kept fighting, fighting and grinding," said coach David Dennis Sr., whose team trailed Worthington Christian by as many as 14 points in the first half. "We got (the deficit) down to six, then to two and then we couldn't get over the hump. An offensive rebound by them, a great basket by them and we just said, 'Keep working.'
"The play was to get (Anthony) the ball on the wing and he had to read it, make a decision, and I thought it was a great look. To know he had three shots to make one, I like those chances."
Anthony, who has more than 2,300 career points, scored 23 against second-seeded Worthington Christian as top-seeded Harvest Prep played in its first game decided by single digits since losing to Olentangy Liberty 74-72 on Jan. 18.
Harvest Prep improved to 22-3 and advanced to play Chillicothe Zane Trace in a regional semifinal March 11 at Ohio University. The winner faces West Lafayette Ridgewood or Proctorville Fairland in a regional final Saturday, March 14, at OU.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal March 20 at Ohio State.
The defending state champion, Harvest Prep was ranked first in the final state poll, while Fairland was sixth, Zane Trace was ninth and Ridgewood was 10th.
"To (win a district title) three years straight, that's crazy," said Anthony, whose team lost in a district final in 2017 when he was a freshman. "I couldn't ask for anything better. I'm proud.
"(The missed 3-pointer) was the shot I wanted. There were seven seconds left and I know coach has trust in me. I was ready for that moment. There are going to be times I don't get every shot I want, but people are always going to foul, so I have to be ready to shoot (free throws). Me and my dad work on free throws all the time, so that's not a problem."
Senior guard Kenneth Sykes scored nine points, including a 3-pointer in the second quarter to bring his team back to within 23-12 after it had fallen behind by 14.
Senior forward Malachi Henry added eight points and junior guard Mario Davis scored six for Harvest Prep, which trailed 28-23 at halftime and took its first lead of the game late in the third quarter.
Harvest Prep beat 12th-seeded Columbus Academy 65-41 in a district semifinal March 3 at Bloom-Carroll as Anthony had 34 points and junior guard Brian Beavers scored 13.
"It was just a slow start (against Worthington Christian)," Sykes said. "We don't usually have those, but since we had it, we knew going into halftime that we had to pick it up."