KETTERING — The Preble Shawnee High School boys basketball team fell just short in its quest to advance to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
The Arrows trailed by four points early in the fourth quarter, but Canal Winchester Harvest Prep pulled away down the stretch to earn a 56-49 victory in a Division III regional final game on Saturday night at Kettering’s Trent Arena.
Arrows junior Mason Shrout had a game-high 27 points and 13 rebounds for Preble Shawnee, which finished its season 23-4.
“The guys played their tails off, never quit,” said Preble Shawnee coach Jake Turner. “We knew this was going to be a tough challenge. Their athleticism is unbelievable. They’re a really good team, but I was proud of our guys for hanging in there and never giving up. They continued to battle and battle. We had chances. We had some good looks, we just didn’t make them.”
Harvest Prep’s Brandon Roddy scored 19 points and Nyalle Shaheed added 12 points as the Warriors (22-6) advanced to face Cleveland Heights Lutheran East in a D-III state semifinal at 2 p.m. Saturday at University of Dayton Arena.
Harvest Prep led 14-13 after one quarter and extended its lead to 26-15 on a 3-pointer by Zyaun Hutson midway through the second quarter.
The Arrows fought back with a 12-4 run, including seven points from Shrout, to cut the lead to 30-27 at the half.
Preble Shawnee cut the lead to one point on a 3-pointer by Shrout midway through the third quarter to make it 34-33, but the Warriors responded with a 9-0 run that included a 3-pointer from Shaheed and an old-fashioned 3-point play by Roddy to make it 40-33 after three quarters.
The Arrows cut the lead to four points at 43-39 on a layup by Dylan Campbell with 5:30 remaining, but they wouldn’t get any closer.
“I think we executed everything that we were going to execute well,” Shrout said. “They hit a lot more shots than we thought they were going to.”
Harvest Prep’s Ephraim Campbell scored back-to-back baskets and Shaheed hit a free throw to make it 48-39. The Warriors went 13-for-20 from the free throw line in the second half to seal the victory.
The Arrows knew the key would be handling Harvest Prep’s pressure, but they struggled, allowing 21 points off of turnovers.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Turner said. “We knew if we could limit it to 10 or 12, we’d have a good chance. … Their pressure sped us up all night. We kept saying, ‘Let’s play at our pace, let’s play at our pace,’ but we never really got to that.”
The Arrows finished the season as Western Ohio Athletic Conference champions, won a district title for the first time since 1989 and advanced to the regional final for the first time since 1974.
Preble Shawnee will graduate three seniors, including Campbell, Cooper Roell and Josh Miller.
“They gave everything they had tonight,” Turner said. “We had an unbelievable season. One of the best, if not the best season — you could argue that — in Preble Shawnee history. These guys have nothing to be upset about. … I’ll never forget coaching this group. I’m upset we got beat, but I’m more upset that this is the last time I get to coach you guys and this group together.”
Shrout gave praise to all three of his senior teammates, as well as the Arrows junior varsity squad, who spent all of last week getting them ready for their regional games.
“It’s a blessing to be able to say I go to Preble Shawnee,” Shrout said. “I’m just glad we brought basketball back to Preble Shawnee. We’re going to make more memories this summer and remember these (memories).”
The Arrows will return all but one starter from this year’s regional final squad, meaning they’ll have a chance to make another run next season.
“This season wasn’t handed to us,” Turner said. “We worked for what we got and deserved what we got, in my opinion. I told them we’ve got to work even harder next year. There’s got to be more motivation because now you’ve got a target on your back. Everybody wants to come at you. These guys have bought in and they’re going to work their tail off.”
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