Boys Basketball: Titans set to face Harvest Prep on Friday

Mar. 19—Canal Winchester Harvest Prep's trip to the boys state basketball trip last year left a bad taste in the Warriors' mouths and will be motivation when they play Ottawa-Glandorf in a Division III state semifinal on Friday, coach David Dennis said on an OHSAA teleconference on Tuesday.

Eventual state champion Lutheran East, which beat O-G 67-61 in the Division III championship game, dominated Harvest Prep 65-44 in their semifinal.

"Last year they were embarrassed to make it to the big stage and play the way we did. They definitely were embarrassed," Dennis said about his players.

"Coming back this year they were super hungry. They wanted to get back. We'll definitely use that as motivation," he said.

O-G (24-3) is playing in a boys state basketball tournament for the fourth year in a row and the eleventh time overall. The Titans won state championships in 2013, 2008, and 2004. Harvest Prep (23-4) is in the state tournament for the eighth time. It won its only state championship in 2019.

Adonus Abrams, a 6-2 senior who averages 14.7 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.9 steals, leads Harvest Prep. Five other Warriors average between 8 and 9 points a game.

"Throughout the tournament, it's been a different guy stepping up. We're just playing good team basketball now, from the starters to the bench. On a given night, one of our guys could score 20 and the next day they could have 10 and somebody else steps up and has 20," Dennis said.

Harvest Prep has won its last 16 games after losing four games between Dec. 20 and Jan. 2.

"A few of our players got hurt and we weren't healthy until about the Hilliard Davidson game on Martin Luther King weekend. Since then roles have been defined, we've cleaned up some of our miscues, built some confidence, and have better chemistry. We entered the tournament hot. We're peaking at the right time," Dennis said.

Ottawa-Glandorf coach Tyson McGlaughlin said on the teleconference, "For us this year it's been a work in progress. We've been a team that has really improved throughout the year. Early in the season we really depended heavily on Colin White and Caden Erford but since basically the new year our supporting cast has done a phenomenal job of developing and getting more confidence. With the schedule we play and the type of competition we play, those guys really needed to come into their own."

The Titans had three returning starters from last year's team which beat Columbus Africentric in the semifinals before losing to Lutheran East — White, Erford, and guard Grant Schroeder. They had to replace two starters — 6-7 Theo Maag and point guard Hunter Stechschulte.

"When you have to replace your big and your point guard, it took a little time," McGlaughlin said.

"We've got to stay true to who we are. They bring some quickness and athleticism on the perimeter that we haven't seen day in and day out. We've got to prepare for that," he said. "But at the same time, our guys are extremely confident and we've played some really good teams with some really good guards."

If not for the pandemic canceling the state tournament when it was at the regional level in 2020, O-G could be in its fifth state tournament in a row. The Titans were 25-1 in 2020 when the season was stopped.

They also might have matched up with Harvest Prep that season, McGlaughlin said. "They had a phenomenal team that year and I think both teams were destined to run into each other in that state tournament."

While Harvest Prep appears to have talked about getting back to the state tournament, Ottawa-Glandorf didn't talk a lot about it, McGlaughlin said.

"We said all year we knew the bull's eye was going to be on our back as far as making it back down to Dayton. But we told our guys we're not going to look at that final destination. We're focusing on the journey. We were just going to keep playing and cherish memories and these moments and it's going to make us stronger."