The decision by the OHSAA to suspend the remaining winter tournaments because of the coronavirus has at least temporarily ended the Harvest Prep boys basketball team's hopes of winning a second consecutive Division III state championship.
The Warriors did their part to maximize their season with a 58-46 victory over Chillicothe Zane Trace in a regional semifinal March 11 at Ohio University to improve to 23-3. The teams played in front of a limited crowd, and the OHSAA announced the suspension of the remaining winter tournaments the next day.
Harvest Prep coach David Dennis Sr., whose team was a state semifinalist in 2018, called it a time of "hurt for my players and school and my coaching staff."
"We are sad, hurt and mad," Dennis Sr. said. "(There has been) a lot of investment with time, money, physically and mentally by the players, parents, coaching staff and school. ... All we can do is support this decision, but that doesn't mean we have to like it."
The Warriors were scheduled to play Proctorville Fairland in a regional final March 14. The state tournament was to be held from Thursday, March 19, through Saturday, March 21.
Harvest Prep trailed Zane Trace 11-10 after the first quarter but outscored the Pioneers 16-6 in the second period.
The Warriors led 37-32 after three quarters and outscored Zane Trace 21-14 in the fourth.
In the final state poll, Harvest Prep was ranked first, while Fairland was sixth and Zane Trace was ninth.
"The first half was nothing but a great defensive half by us," Dennis Sr. said. "We really wanted to get (Zane Trace) out of their comfort zone and I thought we did that very well. Once we did that, it really opened it up for us on the offensive end in transition and we also made a couple 3s. The second half we kind of got lazy and (had) some bad turnovers and let them back in the game, but once we settled down and made some adjustments, we got back into our groove."
Senior guard Christopher Anthony, who is the area's all-time leading scorer with 2,369 career points, scored 22 against Zane Trace and is averaging 28 per game. He has scored at least 31 points in five of the last seven games.
Junior guard Brian Beavers added 12 points against the Pioneers and senior wing player Malachi Henry and senior guard Kenneth Sykes scored seven and six, respectively.
Harvest Prep has seven players averaging between five and 10 points.
"How our system is, anybody can contribute on any night," Anthony said. "Everybody is really growing right now."