Boys Basketball: Balanced Harvest Prep Warriors haven't taken step back

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Nyelle Shaheed and Harvest Prep were 14-0 overall and 12-0 in the MSL-Cardinal Division after beating Millersport 74-49 on Feb. 9. With the victory, the Warriors wrapped up their eighth consecutive league championship and won their 59th consecutive league game.

During its 88-39 victory over Grove City Christian on Feb. 1, the Harvest Prep boys basketball team had six players score in double figures.

That’s just one example of how things have been radically different this winter for the Warriors, who have adjusted after losing the best player in program history, Christopher Anthony Jr., to graduation. 

Anthony averaged 28 points last season and finished with a Central District-record 2,395 career points. He led Harvest Prep to a Division III state semifinal in 2018, the state championship in 2019 and a regional final last winter, before the remainder of the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Warriors, who went 23-3 last season, also lost two other key contributors to graduation in Kenneth Sykes and Malachi Henry.

What Harvest Prep has done following their departure is create a balanced offense that averages nearly 90 points and has the Warriors believing another long tournament run could be in the cards. 

“What’s special about this team is that everybody can go out and get 20,” sophomore forward Nyelle Shaheed said. “I started last year and for sure last year I was playing a role, but I was just a freshman and didn’t really know what I was doing. This year I’ve had to step it up and I’ve stepped it up. 

“Our first goal is to get a trip (to the state tournament). Last year (it got taken) away from us and this year we’ve got to go get it.” 

Ranked fourth in last week’s state poll, the Warriors were 14-0 overall and 12-0 in the MSL-Cardinal Division after beating Fisher Catholic 79-38 on Feb. 6 and Millersport 74-49 on Feb. 9.

Harvest Prep wrapped up its eighth consecutive league championship and won its 59th consecutive league game when it beat Millersport.

On Feb. 24, the second-seeded Warriors open the postseason at home against 23rd-seeded KIPP Columbus. With a win, they’ll play host to 19th-seeded Utica on Feb. 27. 

Harvest Prep will have the home-court advantage throughout the district tournament, with the champion of its bracket heading to a regional semifinal against a team from the Southeast District. 

“Straight off the jump, coach (David Dennis Sr.) has been pushing us, just at practice,” senior guard Terrence Kee said. “We practice harder than anybody in the city. I can say that firsthand. We run harder than everybody and our practices are just intense. When it translates on the court, it’s just different. 

“I feel like we can hit you with all different angles. Everybody can go for double digits every night and coach can get everybody in the game.” 

Shaheed and Kee have emerged as the team’s top scorers, averaging 14 and 13 points, respectively, through 13 games. Kee was a regular at the beginning of last season but sat out the second half because of the OHSAA transfer rule. 

Freshman guard Adonus Abrams was averaging 12.5 points, with senior guards Brian Beavers and Mario Davis, senior forward Jordan Walker, junior forward Marshawn Oliver and sophomore guards Nicholas Harris and Zyaun Hutson also taking on key roles. 

“We’re balanced,” Dennis said. “Don’t get me wrong, (Anthony) was an amazing player and did a lot of great things for us, but a lot of people focused on him. Now there’s not one person they can focus on. You have to guard all five of them. All of them can shoot the 3, all can drive. They’re young. They’re athletic. What I like is our balance. We get a lot of steals and we crash the boards. We’re athletic enough to rebound, so I really like our defense right now.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek