KETTERING, Ohio -- The Warriors of Harvest Prep displayed quick hands and feet on defense forcing multiple turnovers they turned into transition buckets in a 59-47 win over Preble Shawnee enroute to the Division III Regional Championship at Trent Arena at Kettering Fairmont High School.
The Warriors withstood a number of runs by the Arrows, who had only lost three games on the season, behind their all-time leading scorer Mason Shrout who led all scorers on the evening with 27 points.
Harvest Prep used six clutch free throws in the closing minutes to stretch their lead to double digits, while stifling the Arrows offense with one stellar defensive stanza after another.
Harvest Prep jumped out to the lead after the first quarter 14-13 when Alan Chiles made a running banker just before the buzzer.
The Warriors then seemed to seize the momentum in the second period jumping out to a 23-13 lead as four different players scored in the early minutes to seize their double digit lead. However, Shrout, who was a whirling dervish on the court, responded with nine points before the end of the half cutting the Warrior lead to 30-27.
Shrout scored 17 points in the first half to keep the Arrows close single-handedly. Shrout, a junior forward, is already the leading scorer in Preble County history and will likely pass the 2,000 point mark in his career barring any unforeseen injuries next season.
Both teams came out cold in the early third quarter and missed opportunities to jump out to a third quarter advantage. After a Shawnee timeout at the 3:30 mark in the third, Shrout hit his only basket of the period, a three-pointer, to cut the Warrior lead to 34-33.
Harvest Prep got two three-pointers back-to-back by Adonus Abrams and Nyelle Shaheed to grow their lead to 40-33 and outscore the Arrows 10-6 during the ugly offensive quarter.
The fourth quarter started with a steal, layup that turned into an and one by Brandon Roddy to surge Harvest Prep to a 10 point lead. Roddy led the Warriors with 19 points on 10 of 12 free throws, while adding six assists and four steals and providing unsurpassed leadership to his young team.
His sidekick, Shaheed, battled the larger Arrows inside mightily, adding 12 and six rebounds on the night. Freshman big man Ephraim Campbell contributed seven points and six rebounds including two key buckets in the final quarter that helped the Warriors keep Preble Shawnee at arm's length. Shawnee's 6-foot-5 Shrout would lead all players with 13 rebounds on the night.
Despite losing the battle of the boards by a wide margin, Harvest Prep's eight to one advantage on steals was the biggest statistical advantage of the night after they turned them into one fastbreak opportunity after another.
Clutch free throws and a defense which produced multiple stops down the stretch ended a dream season with the 59-47 defeat of the Arrows who were 23-4 on the year. Harvest Prep improved to 22-6 on the year and stretched its winning streak to 12 games. Next stop for Harvest Prep will be the state semifinals at University of Dayton Arena next weekend where they will take on Lutheran East.