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From My View for 11/25

By Bruce Crawford - Staff Writer | Nov 25, 2020

After knocking-off St Marys in the Region I, Section II championship, the Dave Tallman led Blue Eagles were set to take on the Cameron Dragons who lost to Wheeling Central in their Region I, Section I championship, with the winner heading to Charleston, while the loser would have to wait until next season.

However, as things played out this would be the final game of the season for both teams, as the corona-virus would deny the winner a chance to contend for a Class-A state title. This is how the game unfolded, and it would also go down as one of the greatest boys basketball games I have in Magnolia history I have covered in the past 18-years.

Adversity hit the Blue Eagles head on leading up to the contest, and Wednesday night in New Martinsville was no exception. After losing their top player to disciplinary action during sectional play, the Blue Eagles would also see their senior star Jake Gamble go down in the second quarter with an injury. Gamble came out in the second half to give it another try, but would go down once more and had to leave the floor for the remainder of the contest.

With their leader out for the remainder of the game, others had to step up and that’s what they did. Claiming the Regional title, the Blue Eagles set their sights on the big dance in Charleston.

“I just didn’t want to leave my brothers,”Gamble said. “I wanted to go out there and do all I could to get to Charleston and we finally did it.”

Coach Dave Tallmans’ team who held a 22-9 advantage at the half, found themselves shorthanded and Cameron quickly took advantage to win the third frame 13-5 and pull to within five points heading down the stretch, but couldn’t overcome the Blue Eagles who claimed the win 47-42.

Magnolia opened the game with two quick baskets in the first two minutes of play by Trent Scheibelhood for a 4-0 lead. Cameron got a bucket by Bersiford and free throws from Cole Burkett and Neeley to tie the game with four minutes left in the quarter, but New Martinsville finished the quarter on a 5-1 run to take a 9-4 lead into the second eight minutes.

Gamble had a good start to the period with three baskets and sophomore Trevor Williamson canned a trey to push the Blue Eagles lead to 18-4.

Gamble then turned his ankle and was taken to the locker room. Cameron then got two back to back buckets by Neeley for their only points of the period. Magnolia guard Levi Cecil hit a pair of free throws and Williamson canned a basket with two seconds remaining in the half to push the lead to 11 at the break.

The Dragons came out in the third quarter and hit to straight baskets to cut the lead to seven, but Williamson hit a 3-pointer to make it 25-13. Cameron then scored nine straight points to cut the lead to three, before Scheibelhood added a Blue Eagle basket with 1:23 left in the third, to give Magnolia a five point lead going into the final quarter.

With eight minutes to go an a trip to the state tournament on the line, both teams went all out. Cameron had the ball, and on their first possession Neeley drilled a three point shot to make it a two point game. With the press causing Magnolia problems, the Dragons got a steal and Magnolia fouled Garrett Scott who hit both attempts to tie the game at 27 with 6:05 to play.

Magnolia got 1-2 free throws from Cecil who went (11-13) for the game to take back the lead 28-27 at the six minute mark. Damion Shrimp who was filling in for Gamble put the Eagles up by two 29-27 when he hit 1-2 free throws with 5:39 to go. Bersiford hit 1-2 attempts from the line for Cameron at the 5:17 to make it 29-28. Magnolia had the ball with the clock running under five minutes when Williamson let go for another three to give the Blue a four point lead 32-28.

Williamson hit another jumper for two at the 4:00 minute mark to give the home team a six point lead. With 3:20 left on the clock the Dragon’s Bersiford hit a shot to make it 34-30 and then Cole Burkett pulled the Dragons to within a bucket 34-32 with 2:59 left. Williamson added another Magnolia basket with 2:30 to play for a 36-32 lead. Burkett hit another bucket to draw to within 36-34, but Magnolia’s Cecil hit two free throws to make it 38-34. Over the last 1:45 seconds of the game Magnolia scored nine points with seven coming on free throws, while Cameron canned eight points down the stretch to end the scoring in the quarter at 20 points each, giving the Blue Eagles the five point win.

“We’re really excited,” Magnolia coach Dave Tallman said. “Everybody had to step up and I’m really proud of our guards. Guards are the guys who get you there. They take you a long way and (Wednesday) that was Trevor Williamson and Levi Cecil.”

Magnolia was led in scoring on the night by Williamson with 15 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Cecil with his big showing at the free throw line provided another double figure scorer with 11 markers. Scheibelhood hit for nine points and Gamble added seven. Freshman Toman hit for three points and Shimp made two free throws.

Cameron had the games top scorer in Neeley who hit for 16 points. New Martinsville stood at 17-8 on the season and advanced to play in the state tournament. Cameron finished the season at 14-11.

A short time later, the virus hit and ended both the girls and boys basketball tournaments in Charleston as well as the entire spring season.

I will try to relive some of our areas greatest winter-season sports games in the past, starting with boys basketball the first couple weeks or until we can get back to normal. If you have a favorite boys and girls basketball games or a thrilling Wrestling contest that you would like me to bring back to life, please fell free to contact me.

You can reach me here at the paper at bcrawford@wetzelchronicle.com or call the office at 304-455-3300 and leave a message and a phone number and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.