Dalyn DeCree and the rest of the seniors had an incredible four years. (Inji Kang’19/media editor)
The CA boys basketball team topped Africentric in the district semifinals, but the #4 seed Vikings came up just short in the title game, falling to Harvest Prep.
Academy traveled to Westerville Central for a clash with #7 seed Africentric on Tuesday, March 5, and overpowered the Nubians, 47-36. Africentric began the scoring with a transition bucket, but senior Hayden Compton responded with a pair of putback layups to kickstart a 15-2 flurry that spanned the remainder of the opening period. Compton outworked the Nubians all night, finishing with 10 points and 16 rebounds.
The Vikes continued their dominance to start the second quarter, and opened up a 24-8. Africentric had been silenced by CA’s zone, and the Nubians found themselves in a deep hole at the break.
Its season in jeopardy, Africentric fought back. The Nubians chopped their deficit down to 7 before junior Carter Warstler buried a corner three to give his team the momentum heading into the final period.
Africentric attempted to rally late, but the Vikings were too much. Senior Dorrian Moultrie scored 5 of his game-high 14 points on clutch free throws in the closing minutes, and Academy secured another win.
The Vikes then hit the road for the Columbus Convention Center on Friday, March 8, to clash with #1 seed Harvest Prep for the district championship. CA stood its ground against the heavy favorites, but ultimately fell to the Warriors in a 71-67 slugfest.
With their adrenaline pumping, the Vikings came out of the gates ready to battle. Academy scored the first 5 points of the game and didn’t seem rattled by the big stage whatsoever. Bad news came for the Vikes, as Compton was forced to the bench after picking up his second foul less than two minutes into the contest. The best defender in the MSL could only watch as Harvest Prep came alive and grabbed a 19-15 advantage after one.
The Warriors extended their cushion to 8 in the second quarter and tried to pull away. Moultrie and fellow senior Chris Boyle wouldn’t let it happen, as Moultrie immediately fueled a 7-0 CA run to keep the Vikings in it, while Boyle feasted on the boards. Moultrie finished with 11 points, and Boyle had 9 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The squads continued to trade blows, and Harvest Prep owned a 5-point lead heading into the locker rooms.
It seemed inevitable that the Warriors would finally put Academy away, but Warstler refused to quit. He scored 14 of the Vikes’ 20 points in the third period, and drained a long-distance bomb to give CA the lead. Warstler tied a career high and led all scorers with 22 points on the night. Harvest Prep recovered, and took a 53-51 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors’ Soul Hines splashed a triple, and it was gut-check time for the Vikings. Compton was unfazed, as he scored 7 points in a short span to put his team in front. Compton finished with 11. Hines answered, connecting from distance again.
Harvest Prep tried to capitalize on an Academy turnover with a layup on the fast break, but Compton punched it out of play. The Warriors cashed in anyway, as Hines came off a down screen after throwing the inbounds pass and drilled another three. He scored 21 points in total, and Harvest Prep held a 66-62 lead.
Senior Dalyn DeCree hit a tough shot to bring the Vikes within 2, but CA wouldn’t get any closer. DeCree had 12 points on the night. The Vikings came up empty on each of their next three possessions, and the Warriors escaped with their fourth district title in six years.
This was the best Academy boys basketball team in recent history. Regardless of the finish, it was a season that everyone involved with the program should be proud of and never forget.
In addition to winning their league outright, the Vikes posted a 20-5 record on the year, a mark that will be tough to duplicate with an exceptional senior class graduating. Warstler is the lone returning starter, with junior classmates Andrew Cahall, David Cooperman, Josh Murry, and Mitch Priest also expected to provide leadership. Sophomores Brady Hess and Jared Kass are slated to have increased roles as well.