CANAL WINCHESTER, Ohio -- Coming into this season fresh off of their first state championship in school history, a lot of people seem to have questions about Harvest Prep due to the fact that their only returning player with a lot of varsity experience is reigning Division III state player of the year CJ Anthony.
Opening up their season with an entirely new look roster, the Warriors showed that they're ready to dominate the MSL-Cardinal once again this season as they ran past Grove City Christian on Saturday, defeating the Eagles 74-50.
After a triple from senior Kenneth Sykes and a few easy baskets off of turnovers, Harvest Prep forced a Grove City Christian timeout early on as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead with 6:44 to go in the first.
Never looking back after this, the Warriors led the entire game, forcing a ton of turnovers with their full-court pressure and moving the ball well on the offensive end.
Rotating a lot of guys into the game and getting them acclimated to the varsity level, the took a 38-22 lead into the locker room and increased that lead to more than 30 points at times in the second half.
Leading the Warriors with 21 points, Anthony opened up his senior season in a good way as he got to the rim when he wanted to and made some good choices passing the ball and getting others involved.
Senior Andre Stephens and freshman Nic Harris each added 10, while juniors Brian Beavers and Jordan Walker each scored eight for the Warriors, who move to 1-0 and will be back in action next Friday at Fairfield Christian.
Seniors Cam Donohoe and Koby Brunney each scored 13 to pace Grove City Christian, while fellow senior Tim Sullivan added nine of his own. They play next on Monday as they hit the road to make the long trip out to Newark Catholic.
CJ Anthony (6'1 / Harvest Prep / 2020): While still nursing a leg injury that he suffered in the preseason, Anthony seemed to be his normal self on Saturday night, hitting shots from the perimeter, getting to the rim whenever he wanted and completely taking Grove City Christian's best player out of the game on the defensive end. While he probably could have put up 35 if he wanted to, CJ made some really good passes on Saturday, getting his young teammates involved and creating some easy baskets on that end. He showed off his improved athleticism with a big time one-handed throw down a backdoor lob, as he seems to have improved his bounce a ton, even with an injury lingering. Though he is far and away the best player in the MSL-Cardinal, CJ is also the best leader, as he's taking his young teammates under his wing and doing a great job of getting them comfortable on the court in the varsity level. Whoever gets CJ at the next level will be getting an elite guard who can score it, pass it, defend at a really high level and is an exemplary leader who knows what it takes to win.
Andre Stephens (6'0 WG / Harvest Prep / 2020): Stephens impressed as a two-way guard on Saturday, applying good on-ball pressure on the defensive end and getting to the rim on offense. He had a few really nice takes, attacking off the bounce and finishing through contact in traffic. Stephens plays with a swagger that we've got used to seeing from Harvest Prep, as he loves to get after it on both ends and brings great energy to his squad. He showed the ability to finish with both hands and came up with a really tough one-handed and-one when being crushed in traffic on the breakaway in the third quarter. We expect him to give the Warriors some valuable minutes off the bench this season as he seems ready to earn his minutes and do his job every night.
Kenneth Sykes (6'0 WG / Harvest Prep / 2020): Sykes also showed some really good two-way value on Saturday as he played lockdown defense on the perimeter, forcing a handful of turnovers in the full-court press and frustrating Grove City Christian ball handlers all game long. He showed value on offense by knocking down two three's off the catch and making good decisions with the ball. The 6-foot guard helped rotate the ball well early against the Grove City Christian zone, made some good outlet passes, and found teammates for some easy buckets in transition. We expect him to enjoy a really good senior season as he'll get a ton of open shots thanks to CJ Anthony and should create a lot of easy baskets on the defensive end as Harvest Prep will overmatch about 85% of their regular season schedule.