Magnolia's "Twin Towers," Mark Winters and Zach Wilhoite, combined to score 50 points and snatched 17 rebounds to power the Blue Eagles to a convincing 82 to 66 victory over Wheeling Central in the New Martinsville Rotary Roundballer Challenge at MHS HammerDome Jan. 26.
"I'm real happy about this one," said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman, himself a Rotarian. "It is nice to be back on the winning side and this is a huge win as far as sectional seeding and OVAC points go."
After MHS senior trumpeter Sean Maxwell opened the event with the National Anthem, the Maroon Knights raced out to a 9-4 lead. But, the Big Blue would go on a 15-5 run in the final three minutes of the period to take a 21-18 lead.
The outside shooting by the Eagles' Stephen Rogalski and the inside game of Winters and Wilhoite pushed the Eagles on top 40 to 34 at the break.
Every time the Maroon Knights appeared to be pulling a little closer, Rogalski would answer with a basket from beyond the arc and the Winters-Wilhoite Machine would press its inside game and relentless play on the boards.
Magnolia's lead would reach double digits in the third frame before Rogalski left the game with five fouls. However, the damage was already done and the Knights couldn't get any closer than the final 82-66 count.
"Mark Winters was Mark Winters, Stephen was Stephen and Zach Wilhoite played the way we have expected him to play all season," said Tallman. "Zach is such a very talented kid, and if he comes with that type of work ethic every day, he will be incredible. I think we learned a lot about ourselves and how valuable Stephen is to us when he was injured."
Winters had a double-double 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Wilhoite contributed 25 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds. He also blocked six Central shots to lead the Blue. Rogalski contributed 19 markers that included five bonus bombs, while Preston Boswell netted 13 points for Magnolia.
Tallman's wife, Carol, and her sisters, along with members of the NM Rotary, the Charlie Morris Grasshopper League, and others did a fantastic job with the hospitality area. Eva Rogalski and Becky Winters worked the player and cheerleading hospitality area.
"It was particularly special to have a bunch of Rotary members stay after the last game and help clean up," said Jim Blatt. "Of course, the list goes on and on. Everyone involved did an outstanding job. My hat's off to all the coaches, players, and school staff. These teams shared locker rooms throughout the day without incident, as teams have for the past four years. I think this really reflects well on the type of coaches and communities we are dealing with."
Playing key roles in helping Jim and Claire Blatt put on the basketball extravaganza were many, many sponsors that included New Martinsville Rotary, Charlie Morris Grasshopper Basketball, DANA Transport, Dr. Neill Marshall, New Martinsville Moose Lodge 931, Witschey's Market, State Sen. Larry Edgell, Wetzel County Hospital, Tri County Hearing Center, Occasions Florists, Anderson Orthodontics, Bayer Heritage Federal Credit Union, Grisell Funeral Homes, Peoples Bank, Dr. Jay Cunningham, Buddy Light Accounting, Quinet's Court Restaurant, and the Magnolia Roundballer Association.
In the opening game of the classic, the Williamstown Yellowjackets snapped a nine-game losing skid with a 75-62 victory over Bishop Donahue.
In the second game of the day, the Tyler Consolidated Silver Knights' Dylan Romine pumped in a game-high 22 points, including a game-winning conventional three-point play with eight seconds remaining to help beat Weirton Madonna, 68-65.
The third game of the night between Paden City and Morgantown Trinity was cancelled because Trinity couldn't make the trip because of the weather.