ATHENS, Ohio -- With a chance to play for a third trip to the state tournament in the last five years, Harvest Prep (27-0) never faltered in a 78-60 victory over Wheelersburg (20-4) in the Division III regional semifinal at Ohio University.
Despite a monster performance of 35 points and 12 rebounds from Wheelersburg junior Tanner Holden, Harvest Prep's offensive attack was too much for the Pirates. Knocking down 10 threes, Harvest Prep's intensity did not waver, as the Warriors were able to dominate in any setting on both ends of the floor.
Senior forward CJ Penha (24) and sophomore guard CJ Anthony combined for 43 points, as Harvest Prep took a 21-13 lead after the first quarter and never allowed Wheelersburg to get back within single digits the rest of the way.
Anthony's four three-point field goals in the first half powered Harvest Prep, as the Warriors knocked down seven threes in the opening two quarters. Holden kept Wheelersburg close, scoring 16 points and grabbing down seven rebounds to pull the Pirates to a 37-27 deficit at the break.
The second half was all Penha and Anthony. Attacking the basket relentlessly in the third quarter, Penha and Anthony helped Harvest Prep extend its lead to 57-41 going into the final frame.
Going up by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter, Harvest Prep held off any type of rally from the Pirates despite Holden's huge scoring night. Cruising to a 78-60 victory, Harvest Prep moves on to face Sugarcreek Garaway on Saturday night in the Division III regional final.
Penha powered the Warriors with 24 points, adding five rebounds and three assists. The Taylor University signee played an aggressive style of ball, getting to the rim and rebounding strong.
The sophomore Anthony was spectacular all game long, knocking down four-of-six attempts from three in the first half and punishing Wheelersburg at the rim after halftime. Finishing with 19 points, Anthony showed off his full arsenal of offensive abilities against a Pirate team that had no answer for him.
Senior forward Isaiah Cumberland added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench, while juniors Soul Hines and Elijah Glenn each finished with eight points. For Harvest Prep, the key was its balanced scoring, as the Warriors were able to get bucket after bucket from a variety of sources.
Harvest Prep advances to the Athens regional final against Garaway (19-8) on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Ohio University. Garaway advances after taking down Oak Hill, who entered the tournament as the No. 7 team in Division III, 52-39 on Wednesday night.
Sitting at 27-0, Harvest Prep can become the first Central Ohio team to enter the state tournament at 28-0 since Northland in 2013. The Warriors are looking to become Ohio's first ever 30-0 state champion with three more wins.
For Wheelersburg, Holden played the game of the tournament, finishing with game highs in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. Totaling 35 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and five steals, Holden showed why he is one of the state's very best forward prospects in the state against a lengthy and athletic Harvest Prep team.
Holden was the only player in double figures for the Pirates, as Trent Salyers scored all nine points in the first half, while no other player had more than six points.
Returning a great deal of its roster next season, look for Wheelersburg to be in contention in Division III once again behind its stud Holden.
CJ Penha and CJ Anthony