Magnolia Wins First State Tourney Game In Final Two Minutes
After being down as much as 13 points in the fourth period at the 3:49 mark, the Blue Eagles’ band of “Cardiac Kids” put together a storybook finish to advance to the semi-finals with a 49-48 victory over Notre Dame to open the WVSSAC state tournament March 18 inside the Charleston Civic Center.
“This has to be the greatest start to the state tournament in years, especially for us” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. “What a game. Clarksburg Notre Dame played a tenacious defense, they contested every shot, they gave us fits. But, somehow we found a way to get a win in the end.”
Kyle Ritz started the remarkable comeback with a basket in the paint, but missed the conventional three-point play, with Preston Boswell getting the rebound. Boswell got the Blue Eagle student body on its feet with a basket and one to trim the deficit down to eight, when Coach Tallman called a timeout at 3:36 mark.
During the timeout, Coach Tallman pleaded with his cagers to foul and get the Irish into a one-and-one situation that would benefit them down the stretch.
Notre Dame sank a pair of free throws to push their lead back to double-digits at 10 with 2:06 left in regulation. And, after two made Ritz free throws, Boswell went to work scoring a runner that trimmed the once insurmountable lead down to six points with 1:28 that forced the Irish to call a timeout to cool down the Eagles and give their team instruction.
Boswell sank two more charity tosses, but the Irish countered with two of their own. Mitch Winters would sink his 10th point of the game and then Tallman called his last timeout.
Magnolia fouled the Irish sensational sophomore guard Jarrod West, and he swished the first foul shot before missing the second, but Notre Dame got the rebound.
Boswell pick-pocketed an Irish opponent and would go coast-to-coast, then was fouled on a shot attempt. With thousands of Charleston Civic Center fans yelling at the top of the lungs, Boswell calmly swished a pair of freebies to get Magnolia to within three at 38 seconds remaining in regulation.
Notre Dame missed the front end of a two-shot foul, pushing the Irish back up by four. However, Boswell drilled his only triple of the night with 24 seconds remaining. He was 0-4 beyond the arc prior to that moment.
“I have confidence in my threes, and all my shots whether I’m hitting early or not,” said Boswell after the game. “Then I knew coming down the line I would have to hit some to get us back in the game, and luckily I hit them.”
The Irish would get trapped in the corner and called their final timeout of the game with 14 seconds remaining in the game. The Big Blue pressure caused an errant pass that Winters picked off and heaved it back down the court to an open Boswell who took it to the hole and was fouled. He sank both to give Magnolia the lead at the 11 second mark.
Notre Dame’s West shot at the basket with Boswell’s hand in his face and Derrick Blain on his hip. It rimmed in and out, then Winters batted it away to midcourt to end the remarkable Magnolia comeback.
“Honestly, that’s usually what we try to do if we can get it, swat it down the court, it just happened to me this time,” said Winters. “I didn’t know how much time was left, I just tried to hit it as far as I could.”
The Blue Eagle hoopsters opened the game with a Boswell basket inside, and Winters knocked in a pair of freebies that gave Magnolia a 4-0 advantage. Notre Dame followed with a made free throw, but Boswell swished one of two free throws to push the Magnolia advantage back to four points.
West drilled a basket from beyond the arc, to narrow the gap to one point, but Boswell netted a deuce right before a media timeout of the opening quarter.
After the break, Boswell sank two more free throws and Ritz gave the Eagles its biggest lead of the game with a layup, at 11-4.
However, Notre Dame answered with seven unanswered points that narrowed the gap at 11-9 after one period of play.
The Irish opened the second period with back-to-back three-balls that gave Notre Dame the lead.
After a Magnolia timeout, Spencer Campbell knocked in his first basket of the game. However, Notre Dame then recorded back-to-back deuces that extended its lead to six points.
Winters followed with a deuce and, after a West made free throw, Winters knocked in one of two of his own. Then West connected from downtown, giving them a seven-point lead.
Ritz, Winters, and Campbell netted 4-6 charity tosses that pulled Magnolia to within three points at the break.
The third quarter was all Irish, as the Notre Dame squad out-scored Magnolia 13-6 to push their advantage to 10 points heading into the fourth period at 36-26.
After an Irish deuce, the Eagles’ Tyler Williamson came off the bench to swish the Blue Eagles first triple of the game. However, Notre Dame answered with a pair of layups that pushed their lead to 13 points.
The Eagles shot 13-47 for 27.7 percent, but would out-rebound Notre Dame, 42-30. “That’s what kept us in the game,” said Tallman of the rebounds. “We were only down three at the half, we were pretty excited about it because we sat Preston and Ritz down a little with two fouls, and we felt like we had a chance.”
“It was a tough game,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Jarrod West Sr. “It was one of the best defensive efforts we have had all year. Magnolia probably got most of their points in the opening three and the final three minutes of the game. I take full responsibility for that. We just didn’t seal the deal. Missed free throws down the stretch, turnovers. I take my hat off to them. They kept fighting, scratching, made a few timely shots, and that’s the game of basketball.”
Boswell led the way with a game-high 23 points and earned a double-double with 11 rebounds, while Winters added another double-double, 10 points and 14 rebounds, eight of which were offensive.
In addition, Ritz netted seven points; Williamson, five points; and Campbell, four points. Campbell sat out the majority of the game, playing a total of 15 minutes. Trainers there said he could have done something to his meniscus (cartilage in the knee), but he plans to be ready to play in the semi-finals Friday morning.
“I’m so happy right now to even be playing Friday,” said Tallman. “To have a day off and prepare. Winning never gets too old, but you have just got to feel bad for Notre Dame. They played the number three seed very tough, and we are tickled to be sitting here.”
Magnolia faces Greater Beckley Christian Friday at 9:30 a.m. in the Charleston Civic Center.