Blue Eagle Zach Willhoite scored 17 of his team-high 19 points, 12 rebounds and four of his six blocked shots in the second half, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 48-45 defeat by Bishop Donahue in the Region I, Section I WVSSAC Class-A semifinal inside the John Marshall Field House.
The Eagles raced out to an 8-4 advantage to start the game. However, the Bishops would go on a 10-0 run to pull ahead 14-8 after one period of play. The Eagles couldn't buy a basket in the second period and fell behind 28-15 at the break.
Willhoite open the second half canning one of two freebies before Donahue nailed a long one in front of the three-point arc. However, the Eagles' top scorer, Preston Boswell - who missed the last several games to a hip injury - picked up his third personal with less than a minute into the third stanza and had to watch from the pine.
With Boswell on the bench and the Eagles' second leading scorer, Spencer Campbell, having an off night, the Eagles looked to be in trouble. But, never fear, Willhoite would put the team on his back and get the Big Blue back in order with a solid performance, scoring 11 points in the period.
Tyler Anderson drained one from outside. However, Donahue Big Man Chaice Truex, who scored 13 points and grabbed seven boards in the opening period, knocked in his second basket of the period. Willhoite and Campbell each netted a basket before Donahue put back a miss. Willhoite scored three more times, with the last one coming from the corner and another one after making a steal and going coast-to-coast, forcing the Bishops to call a time out.
Willhoite added one more basket, while Campbell tossed in a three-pointer. Campbell would catch Donahue napping with an assist to Winters for a lay-in to push MHS to within a bucket at 39-37 with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Willhoite scored six of the Eagles' eight points in the fourth, while Boswell netted the other two from the charity line. Boswell's shot at the buzzer went in, then out, thus failing to put the game into OT.
"Zach really came to life in the second half," said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. "I think we were a little nervous in the first half with starting three sophomores, but we left it all on the floor in the second half."
Magnolia ended the season with a 16-7 record and will lose Eric Smith, Logan Massey, Kevin Taylor, Nathan Durig, and Willhoite, the only starter, to graduation. But returning for next season will be Boswell, Campbell, Winters, and Chase Miller, as well as spot starters Derrick Blain, Kyle Ritz, and Anderson.