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Eagles Fall Short in Charleston

March 13, 2019

Magnolia took an early 4-0 lead, but Trinity came up big from the 3-point line to gain a first quarter lead the Warriors would never relinquish. The Big Blue got on the board 40 seconds into the game on a layup by junior Kyndra Pilant; 30 seconds later, the Eagles went up by four when Mady Winters hit a short jumper.

Although Trinity had no answer all day for Magnolia's big girl, the Warriors had a weapon of their own in Reagan Sharp, a 5'4" terror.

Winters had her way the whole game, hitting for a school-record 45 points and ending the season with more than 1,000 points for her career. She also managed to record a double-double with her 12 rebounds. Trinity got a double-double from Sharp as well, as she knocked in 40 points and added 10 steals.

Trinity got a layup, and a jumper from Sharp to knot the game at four, but Winters came right back with two more inside baskets, and the Blue Eagles led, 8-4. Sharp, who was on fire all night, then nailed a three-pointer to make it 8-7, with Magnolia still in the lead. Following a media time-out and a turnover by the Blue Eagles, Paige Dixon tacked on a three to give the visitors the lead for good with 3:14 left in the first period.

With Trinity leading 10-8, Winters and Sharp traded baskets. Winters went 1-2 from the charity stripe to make it 12-11 Trinity. Sharp then hit a basket as the quarter ended, and the Warriors held a three-point lead at the end of quarter one.

Trinity outscored the Blue Eagles, 20-16, in the second quarter - connecting on four 3-pointers. Magnolia kept the ball in the hands of Winters, who answered with 14 of the Eagles' points in the frame. Pilant had two in the quarter, and Magnolia trailed by seven, 34-27, going into the locker room after being down 12 with 2:47 left in the frame.

Both teams hit 11 points in the third quarter, with Winters continuing to dominate the middle and knocking in eight from close range. The Warriors couldn't do much to stop Winters, but the Blue Eagles were having equal difficulty stopping Sharp, the Warriors' hot-shooting guard. Magnolia got a free throw from Lara Ann Smith and a short jumper from Lenieca Grimm, but Trinity got support for Sharp with a 3-pointer from Leighton Craft and two free throws from Dixon. At the end of the third the difference was still seven points, 45-38, with the Blue Eagles on the short end.

With eight minutes to play the Blue Eagles fell behind by 11 before two free throws from Winters made it 52-42. Trinity got fouled on a three-point attempt but could only hit 1-3 from the line and led 53-42. Winters then got fouled and sank both tries to bring the score back to single digits, 53-44. Winters made three straight jumpers in the lane to cut the lead to three, 53-50, with 2:25 on the clock. Sharp hit a layup for Trinity for a five-point game with 2:11 to play, but the Blue Eagles got a big basket from Pilant - who was fouled on the play.

She made the free throw, and with 1:57 to go, it was a two-point game, 55-53.

However, Sharp was fouled and hit two free throws to put Trinity up, 57-53, with 1:34 to play. Four seconds later she stole the inbounds ball and hit an easy shot to put her team up six with a minute and a half to play. Winters got a basket to get the Eagles to within four, but Sharp was fouled and hit 1-2 to extend the lead to five. With 40 seconds to play Pilant hit a bucket in the lane to make it 60-57. The Blue Eagles elected to foul, and Sharp hit 5-6 free throws to end the scoring.

"It was just one of those games where things didn't fall for us; shots didn't fall," Magnolia coach Meredith Pilant said. "We had a decent amount of turnovers in the first half, which were costly. We let them have too many second-chance points. They exposed us a little in some areas. They pressured us and at times we weren't able to handle that pressure."

Winters stood tall for Magnolia with a game-high, career-high and school record 45 points, while grabbing 12 rebounds. Pilant ended with nine points and 15 rebounds, despite playing on a sore knee she aggravated in the first quarter. The Blue Eagles out-rebounded the Warriors, 37-25, but Trinity hit seven three-pointers to none for Magnolia. The Warriors also hit 16-23 free throws, while the Blue Eagles made good on 7-12 tries.

Trinity forced Magnolia into 24 turnovers, while committing only 13. Trinity scored 31 points off of those turnovers, which proved to be the difference in the game. They also led in steals 15-9, with Sharp getting 10 to give her a double-double. The Blue Eagles shot 51 percent from the floor, compared to Trinity's 40 percent. Another big advantage for the Warriors came from the three-pointer line, with Magnolia shooting 0-7 from beyond the arc, while the Warriors hit 7-18. Trinity also got seven bench points to none from the Blue Eagles and held a 6-0 advantage in fast-break points. Magnolia finished the season with a 19-9 record and sectional and regional championship titles.

The Blue Eagles will lose Aquera Cabral to graduation.



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