COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Convocation Center has almost become a second home for Harvest Prep over the last few years. The Warriors felt comfortable back at home on Wednesday night, defeating Zane Trace in a Division III regional semifinal by a score of 58-46. The Warriors, behind a great CJ Anthony performance and a strong supporting cast, advanced to their third consecutive regional final.
Things got off to a rocky start for Harvest Prep as they fell behind 5-0 in the first two minutes of the game. It was a sloppy quarter that kept them from getting into a rhythm offensively.
Senior guard Kenneth Sykes was vital for Harvest Prep early on. When the Warriors couldn’t get going, he scored the first five points and assisted on the next basket to keep his team in the game. Zane Trace took a 11-10 lead into the second quarter before Harvest Prep turned on the switch.
In the first 3:55 of the second quarter, Harvest Prep went on a 16-0 run that gave them a 26-11 lead. The run was highlighted by Anthony’s aggressiveness on the offensive end and the suffocating team defense of the Warriors. Junior Brian Beavers stepped up in the quarter, knocking down a three-pointer to start the run and getting a big steal and layup to keep the momentum after a Zane Trace timeout.
Zane Trace responded with resilience though, going on a 6-0 run to end the half. Cam Evans, a 6-foot senior guard for the Pioneers, scored two baskets late in the first half to keep his team’s hopes alive. Harvest Prep led 26-17 going into the locker room.
Zane Trace’s momentum didn’t stop there, as the Pioneers began the second half on a 9-2 run, cutting the Harvest Prep lead to just two. With their backs against the wall, Harvest Prep didn’t back down.
On the following possession out of a timeout, Beavers drilled a three while getting fouled and completed the four-point play which gave the Warriors a 32-26 lead with 4:08 remaining in the third.
In what was arguably the most impressive play of the night, Anthony made a D’Angelo Russell-esque pass from the wing and through the defense to a cutting Malachi Henry for a layup. Zane Trace continued to show some signs of a fighting comeback, but never got closer than three.
Harvest Prep defended as needed and made their free throws to secure themselves a third straight trip to the elite eight. Anthony finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Beavers contributed 12 points and three rebounds. Henry added seven points and 10 rebounds, while Sykes had seven points, six rebounds, and three assists.
In the loss, Evans finished with 26 points for the Pioneers and became Zane Trace’s all time leading scorer with a mark of 1,652 points. Evans is an unsigned 6-foot guard with a strong frame and incredible confidence. He is a capable scorer from anywhere on the floor and plays with energy on both ends that is hard to match. He currently holds Division II and Division III offers and would be a great addition for any team seeking toughness at the guard position.
The Warriors will face the winner of Proctorville Fairland and West Lafayette Ridgewood in the regional final on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Athens at the Convocation Center. Harvest Prep is just one game away from making it back to the state tournament.