Boys Basketball: Harvest Prep coach not lowering expectations

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior guard Mario Davis and Harvest Prep are maintaining their high expectations after reaching a Division III regional final last season. The Warriors, however, lost all-time leading scorer Christopher Anthony to graduation.

Losing the program’s all-time leading scorer to graduation doesn’t mean that the Harvest Prep boys basketball team is expecting to take a big step back.

The Warriors won the Division III state championship in 2019 and had beaten Chillicothe Zane Trace 58-46 in a regional semifinal last winter to improve to 23-3 overall when the remainder of the postseason was postponed and eventually canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Worthington Christian, which lost to Harvest Prep 49-47 for a district title, and Wellington, which was a Division IV district champion but has moved up to Division III, are among the teams ninth-year coach David Dennis Sr. knows may get more attention early on than the Warriors.

He warns, however, that counting out his team might not be a great idea.

“Not to toot our own horn, but we are three-time defending district champs and we’re always right there,” Dennis said. “That’s what we’re hoping for again.”

While many other schools in Franklin County are having their league seasons delayed because of the pandemic, Harvest Prep competes in the MSL-Cardinal Division, which is filled with teams from other counties.

The Warriors are scheduled to play Friday, Dec. 11, at Fisher Catholic and Tuesday, Dec. 15, at home against Corning Miller in league games after going 12-0 to capture last year’s title.

There are eight seniors in the program, including Brian Beavers (6-foot-2, guard), Mario Davis (5-9, guard), Terrance Kee (6-1, guard) and Jordan Walker (6-2, forward). Beavers averaged 9.5 points last season and was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Kee averaged 7.0 points but was only eligible for the first half of the season because of the OHSAA transfer rule.

Walker averaged 6.5 points, Davis averaged 5.0 points and sophomore returnees Nicholas Harris (6-2, guard) and Nyelle Shaheed (6-3, forward) both averaged 5.5 points.

The other seniors are Andrew Carlos (5-10, guard), Darren Cunningham (5-6, guard), Jayden Dugue (6-2, guard) and Neiko St. Clair (6-0, guard), while junior Marshawn Oliver (6-2, forward), sophomore Zyaun Hutson (5-5, guard) and freshman Adonus Abrams (5-10, guard) are among those also hoping to contribute.

“I feel things are coming together pretty well,” Davis said. “(We need to continue) practicing hard, listening to our coach and playing together as a team, and of course (we want to) make it back to the state championship and play our hardest every game.”

The Warriors lost three players to graduation in guards Christopher Anthony and Kenneth Sykes and wing player Malachi Henry.

Anthony finished with 2,395 career points to rank first all-time among Central District players. He was a finalist for Ohio Mr. Basketball and is now competing for Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.

Henry averaged 9.0 points and was first-team all-league and third-team all-district, and Sykes averaged 8.0 points and was honorable mention all-league.

“We’re going to go nine to 11 deep,” Dennis said. “Now we have a lot of guys trying to prove themselves. They know it’s their time to step up and make plays. Now teams won’t know who they’ll need to stop. This year will be a little interesting because we’ll be really, really well-balanced and disciplined. 

“We’re still going to do what Harvest Prep does, which is press full-court, go man-to-man, shoot a lot of 3s and a lot of layups. Even though we graduated a great class, we’re still going to do what we’re known for and what we’re good at.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Coach: David Dennis Sr., ninth season

Top players: Brian Beavers, Mario Davis, Nicholas Harris, Terrance Kee, Nyelle Shaheed and Jordan Walker

Key losses: Christopher Anthony, Malachi Henry and Kenneth Sykes

Last season: 23-3 overall

2019-20 MSL-Cardinal standings: Harvest Prep (12-0), Zanesville Rosecrans (10-2), Berne Union (7-5), Fisher Catholic (6-6), Grove City Christian and Millersport (both 3-9), Fairfield Christian (1-11)

2020 postseason: Defeated Columbus International 88-40; def. Utica 76-38; def. Columbus Academy 65-41; def. Worthington Christian 49-47; def. Chillicothe Zane Trace 58-46 in Division III regional semifinal