Eagles Crown Silver Knights, 80-49; Fall To Riders
The Magnolia Blue Eagles advance to the semi-finals in the Region I Section I state playoff championships after they gave an 80-49 drubbing to Tyler Consolidated in the Blue Eagles HammerDome, March 3.
After trailing for the biggest part of the first period, the Blue Eagles opened with a 14-4 run to take a 35-24 lead with them into the locker room, thanks impart to Matt Sapp, Jordan Moore and Jared Blatt.
The trio scored 28 of the 35 Blue Eagle points, with Sapp hitting a trio of three pointers, while Blatt netted 13 and Moore six markers to lead the Eagles offensively.
In the second half, the Blue Eagle offense tallied 45 points, while their defense yielded 25, including only five in the final period to gain the nod.
Jared Blatt paced the Blue Eagles with a game-high 35 points. He also added another double-double with 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. Sapp connected on four three-point buckets, while adding three assists, three rebounds and had two steals.
Moore came off the bench to add a dozen points, while Jon Rine contributed eight points. Other key contributions came from Andy Huggins who had five points, five rebounds and one steal. Field General Andrew Robinson scored two buckets, but led the Eagles with nine assists and three steals, while turning the ball over only one time.
Jayson Keller and Josh Yost each netted two points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals, while Mason Rine netted a free throw, three rebounds, two assists and a swiped Tyler basketball.
As a team, the Eagles made five three point buckets, 17 assists, 34 rebounds, eight steals and blocked nine shots, while committing only seven turnovers.
Zach Minger and Zach Perkey led the way offensively for the Knights with 15 points each.
“It was good to get this game under our belt,” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman.
“Tyler played real well in the first period, hitting all their shots and being real patient. They did a nice job defensively and it’s a good thing we brought our A-game because in a tournament game, anything can happen.
“I like our team and particularly the way we’ve played here at home. I think we are on a little bit of a roll, and I wouldn’t want to play us right now,” added Tallman.
Magnolia will look to avenge lasts season’s playoff loss Friday when they host Weir, a 68-53 winner against Oak Glen.
In past years when Magnolia and Weir met on the basketball court during post-season play, it meant a regional championship was on the line.
Perhaps what was even more important was that winning meant the right to advance to the state tournament in Charleston. Losing meant the end of the season.
This year the rules have changed and the Blue Eagles and Red Riders were playing for a sectional championship and the right to host a state
tournament play-in game with neither team worrying about if the season would be ending from the result.
Weir came in with a little chip on their shoulder as they were defeated by the Eagles twice in the regular season on back-to-back nights. If the third time was the charm, the luck became effective in the first half as Shawn Burns lived up to his last name.
The Red Rider junior caught fire early and often, accounting for four 3-pointers in the first quarter alone. He finished with 14 points total in the first eight minutes, equalling Magnolia’s point total despite an outstanding but overshadowed effort by Josh Yost who scored 10 points on five baskets.
Burns kept it hot in the second quarter with 10 more points on four baskets and helping the Red Riders take the lead by as many as 20. After a time out, Magnolia was able to regroup and chop at the Weir lead and cut it to 14 by halftime.
While this would be a problem for most teams to overcome, it’s been
something familiar for Magnolia against Weir. After all, their two aforementioned wins were come from behind with the Eagles being down by double digits in both games.
“We watch the film of the game at home when we were down by 13 early in the third quarter and I wanted our guys to know that we could come back on them,” said veteran Head Coach Dave Tallman. “I’ve seen Weir play five times and they’re great in the first quarter. We just have to try to weather that storm.”
Sure enough, Magnolia made their move in the third quarter. If the momentum wasn’t on their side after chopping Weir’s lead down before the half, it was after Andrew Robinson started off with a trey. Baskets by Jared Blatt, Jon Rine and Matt Sapp pulled them even closer.
Not only was the offense getting the job done, the defense finally cooled down Burns and forced the other Red Riders to score.
“We went to a 1-3 chaser,” said Tallman. “Andrew was getting frustrated so we put Matt Sapp on him which seemed to be a good move. When Matt got wore out, we put Jayson Keller on him.”
It was the first time Weir had troubles finding the hoop scoring only seven points in the quarter while Magnolia quickly found itself down 48-45 going into the final stanza.
Once again, Robinson started the affair with another three – something he also did in the second quarter – to tie the game. Shortly after that, Andy Huggins gave Magnolia the lead with a deuce.
From there, the momentum began to start flowing the other way. Tyler Taflan and LJ Campbell quickly tied the game and subsequently giving the lead back to Weir.
In the mean time, Magnolia’s offense sputtered as they couldn’t get any shots to fall. They would get good looks, but it seemed like anytime a shot was attempted, the referee’s whistle quickly followed sending a Blue Eagle to the line. From there they hit eight of 13 foul shots.
As if that weren’t enough, Weir was able to take advantage of Magnolia miscues, converting six turnovers into scoring situations. They weren’t able
to follow through on all of them, but eventually their lead got to the point where the Eagles were forced to foul. The Riders converted 11 of their 15 free throw down the stretch.
It would prove to be too much to overcome a second time and Weir would win 70-58.
Magnolia’s offense featured a well-balanced quar-tet of double-digit scorers. Robinson led them with 13 points, followed by Yost with 12, Blatt with 11 and Rine with 10. Rounding out the Big Blue were Sapp with six, Huggins with four, and Jayson Keller with two.
Burns turned out the be the biggest problem for Magnolia, torching the Eagles for 31 points.
Because of the way the new tournament is set-up, the Eagles will travel to Ravenswood to take on the Red Devils for the state tournament play-in game tonight. The Red Devils defeated Point Pleasant in the Region I Section II championship 47-43. Weir will host Point Pleasant in the other play-in game.
“We love just still being alive because if it was the old format we’d be packing our stuff away,” Tallman said. “We saw them play a couple weeks ago against Point Pleasant at Ravenswood. They’re very quick. They’re very well disciplined. They play great defense like all of Coach Mick Price’s teams do. We’re going to go in there and play our hearts out.
We’ve played Ravenswood several times over the past few years and we’re really looking forward to it, because the opposite is putting everything away.”