The Tolsia Rebels scored the game's last 10 points in triple overtime and outlasted the Magnolia Blue Eagles 67-59 in the West Virginia Class-2A Boys' State quarter final round game March 14 in the Charleston Civic Center.
The Blue Eagles' Mark "Special K" Winters scored on Magnolia's first opening position in the third overtime period. However, the Rebels hit the final 10 points to seal the deal. It was the third and final year Magnolia was sent home in the Class-AA tournament before the Blue Eagles move to Class-A next year.
"The effort my guys gave was incredible," said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. " It was the best game I've ever seen here-not by the scoring, but by the effort. Both teams left it on the court. Give (Jacob) Copley a lot of credit. He is one heck of a player, and we knew that. But give Mark Winters a lot of credit too. He's a dandy also."
Mark Winters, #11, looks to score one of his team-high 33 points in the Class-AA Championship against Tolsia last week, while sharp shooter Stephen Rogalski awaits a return pass. The Blue Eagles lost the contest 65-59 in triple overtime. (All tournament photos by Bruce Crawford) Pick up a copy of the Wetzel Chronicle to see more Magnolia State Tournament pictures.
The Eagles won the opening toss and quickly showed what the Rebels were in store for. Winters went deep inside for an easy deuce, only to be answered by a Rebel lay-in from Copley to knot the game at two.
After misses by both teams, the Eagles' Hunter Campbell put back a miss to give Magnolia a 4-2 advantage. However, the Rebels made two foul shots to tie the game once again and went on to complete 29-39 at the charity stripe.
However, Magnolia's junior swingman Stephen "Rogo" Rogalski nailed a basket from deep beyond the arc to give Magnolia the lead back once more. After several missed shots by both teams, Tolsia would hit a jumper, then two more charity tosses, to pull ahead once more.
After being mauled every trip down the court, Winters finally made it to the free throw line and buried both attempts to retain the lead. However, Tolsia sank another pair of free throw opportunities before Winters closed out the first quarter with a jumper that gave Magnolia an 11-10 lead.
The Eagles experienced a drought in the second period, making only one field goal, while Tolsia outscored them 9-2 to regain the lead at 20-16 at intermission.
Winters opened the second half with a plus one - on an Eagle three point play the hard way. However, Copley did the same on the other end. But the Eagles scored the game's next nine points that started with a Rogalski three pointer, a Winters jumper, and lay-ups by Jayson Keller and Nick Blatt. That gave Magnolia a 28-23 lead that forced Tolsia into taking a time out.
After the short break, Copley nailed one of two free throws and netted a longball to close the gap to one, before the Eagles' Zach Wilhoite added a basket inside. Tolsia scored two more free throws before the Eagles' Keller knocked in a jumper to give Magnolia a 32-29 advantage with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Winters helped his team build its largest lead of the game with another three-point play that gave Magnolia a 35-29 advantage to start the fourth period. However, Copley would tally a pair of three pointers in between a Magnolia miss. At that point, Tallman would call a time out.
When play resumed, Copley sank two more charity tosses that put Tolsia ahead 37-35. Winters would sink one of two free throws, but Copley topped that with two more charity tosses to pull out in front, 39-36. That caused Tallman to call another time out to give his warriors some encouragement before they went back to the floor with 1:29 left in the fourth period.
Campbell tipped in a miss to close the gap to a single point, whereupon Tolsia called a time out of its own. After a Magnolia steal, Tallman again called a time out. After the break, the Eagles went to Winters inside for a two pointer that gave Magnolia the lead with 23 ticks left in period four.
Magnolia had a chance to win it in regulation, but a Keller shot hit iron and Winters missed the tip in. Tolsia made one of two charity tosses to force an overtime.
After officials rectified some confusion, Magnolia took the ball out of bounds adjacent to the scorer's table. Winters gave Magnolia the first lead in over time with a bucket, but Tolsia nailed two free throws and Copley hit a deuce before Winters put his team back on top with an old-fashioned three-point play.
Neither team scored until Keller sank one of two free throws with 52 seconds remaining in the first overtime period. Copley found his way back to the free throw line once more to knot the game with a pair of charity tosses. The Eagles missed another chance to end the game, but so did Tolsia on a Copley runner to send the contest into a second overtime period.
Winters laid up the first points in the second OT, but Copley sank two back-to-back triples that ignited a 10-2 run to gain the lead for Tolsia, 56-50.
But, a tenacious Blue Eagle team scored back-to-back tip-ins by Campbell and Blatt that were followed by a Winters deuce that sent the contest into the third OT period.
An assist from Campbell to Winters started the third overtime and marked the last Blue Eagle lead at 59-57. The rest is history.
Magnolia was in foul trouble for most of the game, especially Rogalski, who played only 26 minutes before fouling out along with Keller, Blatt and Winters by the game's end.
The Rebels shot 29-39 free throws, compared to 9-15, for Magnolia. "We have been facing that a good bit this year and I don't know," Tallman exclaimed. "We had them and there were some crucial calls. We don't blame officials, they did the best they could. But, I will let the numbers speak for themselves. It was like a hockey game in the last two minutes and the refs were letting them play. But, I've been coaching a long time, and I have never had that many guys foul out in a game."
Copley paced Tolsia with a game-high 40 points, including six from beyond the arc, and hauled in 14 rebounds. He shot as many free throws as the entire Blue Eagle team did.
Winters paced the Blue and Gold with 33 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double. He also went 7-10 at the foul line. Blatt followed with seven points and 10 rebounds, while blocking four shots. Campbell tallied six points and hauled in 10 off the board, while Rogalski netted the only baskets from beyond the arc with two for six points.
Keller scored a pair of deuces and netted a charity toss, while swiping two Rebel basketballs and causing many Tolsia turnovers. Wilhoite netted a basket and grabbed a rebound in limited action, while Drew Keller added an assist, a steal and caused havoc, defensively. Senior Evan Heslep came in late and blocked a shot.
Winters also earned a spot on the West Virginia Class-AA All Tournament team.
Magnolia ended its season 20-5 and finished runner up to Fort Frye in the OVAC. The Blue Eagles will move to Class-A next season, after losing senior starters Blatt, Campbell, Jayson Keller, and reserves Heslep and Tyler Myers. However, they will return top scorer and rebounder Mark Winters and sharp shooter Stephen Rogalski. Also returning will be spot-starters Wilhoite and Drew Keller, along with a solid reserve squad and a couple nice looking freshmen players.