Boys Basketball: Harvest Prep Warriors will have plenty of motivation after district-final loss
Over the coming months, Nyelle Shaheed doesn't expect to struggle to find a motivational moment to look back to from this season.
After contributing last season as a freshman when the Harvest Prep boys basketball team won its sixth district championship in eight seasons and reached a Division III regional final before the remainder of the postseason was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Shaheed was instrumental in helping the program remain one of the area’s best this winter.
The Warriors, who put together a perfect regular season and won their first three postseason games, were seeded second for the district tournament and looking to again beat Worthington Christian in a district final after doing so 49-47 last season.
On March 5, however, top-seeded and host Worthington Christian won 50-25 to end Harvest Prep’s season at 19-1. Harvest Prep also went 14-0 to win the MSL-Cardinal Division title.
“The season went well in my opinion, (and) we proved the naysayers (wrong, but) we just couldn’t finish all the way,” Shaheed said. “We know we’re coming back stronger and even better (next season). That (blowout loss) can never happen again. That’s our motivation. I know coach (David) Dennis (Sr.) will have a plan (for next season).”
Harvest Prep trailed 11-10 after the first quarter in the district final but was held scoreless in the second quarter and trailed 38-19 heading into the fourth.
Shaheed picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter but still scored a team-high nine points.
After averaging 5.5 points last season, Shaheed emerged as the team’s No. 1 scoring option as a sophomore wing player.
Shaheed scored 21 in a 73-55 victory over 19th-seeded Utica on Feb. 27 in the second round of the tournament.
Then in a 65-34 victory over sixth-seeded Fredericktown on March 2 in a semifinal, senior guard Brian Beavers finished with 15 points and Shaheed and senior guard Mario Davis both scored 11.
The Warriors lost their all-time leading scorer, Christopher Anthony, to graduation after going 23-3 last season.
“Losing (Anthony) and the good senior class, we really didn’t know what to expect,” Dennis said. “Not having summer ball and camps also put us behind, so we really were heading into this season with a lot of unknowns that we usually have answers for. As the season started, pieces started to come together and we were getting the answers that we needed to know. Not having our traditional non-league schedule of traveling and competing with bigger schools put a damper in our experience area, especially with such a young team. We did overcome that.
“It hurts right now because no one likes losing and we’re very competitive, but when we sit down and realize what and how we were successful this year, the things we overcame and all the things we accomplished, and how far we come throughout the season, all you can do is say, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ and man, we did some things with this group.”
Shaheed averaged 12.3 points and 8.4 rebounds, shot 62.3 percent from the floor and was first-team all-district, while senior guard Terrence Kee averaged 11.5 points and 3.6 rebounds and was second-team all-district.
Davis averaged 10.8 points and 3.0 assists and was third-team all-district, and Beavers averaged 8.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists and was honorable mention all-district. Dennis was named the district’s Coach of the Year.
Freshman guard Adonus Abrams averaged 10.5 points and also was honorable mention all-district.
Joining Shaheed and Abrams as key returnees should be junior forward Marshawn Oliver and sophomore guards Nicholas Harris and Zyaun Hutson.
Oliver averaged 7.5 points and Harris averaged 6.5.
“For us, our outlook next season is no different than any other season at Harvest Prep,” Dennis said. “(We want to) win the league, win the district, win the regional and win the state. ... Our young players will be back and ready to go.”
•Record: 19-1 overall
•MSL-Cardinal standings: Harvest Prep (14-0), Fisher Catholic (9-4), Millersport (7-6), Berne Union (7-5), Rosecrans (5-3), Fairfield Christian (4-8), Grove City Christian (3-11), Corning Miller (0-12)
•Seniors lost: Brian Beavers, Andrew Carlos, Darren Cunningham, Mario Davis, Jayden Dugue, Terrence Kee, Neiko St. Clair and Jordan Walker
•Key returnees: Adonus Abrams, Nicholas Harris, Zyaun Hutson, Marshawn Oliver and Nyelle Shaheed
•Postseason finishes: Defeated KIPP Columbus 68-46, def. Utica 73-55, def. Fredericktown 64-34, lost to Worthington Christian 50-25 in Division III district final