Magnolia Loaded And Ready For Bear
Magnolia’s ascent to the West Virginia Class-AA Football Semifinals delayed by a few weeks the roll out of the 2009-10 Blue Eagle Basketball team. But Head Coach Dave Tallman is confident about his team’s motivation to begin the season.
Last season the Eagles lost to the eventual Class AA Champions, Ravenswood, in the Regional Finals. And after a loss in the semifinals, he knows the boys are ready for redemption.
“We hope to feed off the football team’s success and get off to a great start,” said Tallman. “We have high expectations and have worked real hard during the summer.
The Big Blue will get a good look at their competition in a new event this year – The Region One Challenge – which was Tallman’s idea to give teams in the region an opportunity to showcase their talents. The challenge is scheduled for Jan. 30 at MHS.
Graduated from last year’s squad are Andrew Robinson and Jon Rine, but three starters return this season: Jared Blatt, Josh Yost, and Matt Sapp. Also back are senior center/forward Andy Huggins; junior guard Traeh Keller; and junior forward Jordan Moore.
Sophomore Jayson Keller will be first off the bench to spell Sapp and brother Traeh.
Also battling for playing time will be senior Derek Anderson and juniors Drew Simmons, Justin Wade, Kyle Anderson, and Leif Lallathin, as well as sophomores Nick Blatt, Bentley Knight, Tyler Myers, Andrew Goddard, Ryan Gautschi, Evan Heslep, and Hunter Campbell.
Freshman Mark Winters must be included here. The 6’5″ center/forward is expected to be a solid contributor, offensively and defensively.
Blatt averaged a double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds) last season and earned second team All-State, first team All-OVAC, and first team All- Valley laurels. He paced the county with 410 points and snatched 270 rebounds (157 defensive and 113 offensive) and swatted away 70 opponent shots. He also dished up 48 assists.
Yost dropped in 50-64 free throws, while going 58-88 at the charity stripe. Sapp, also, can knock them down from beyond the arc, swishing the cords from the outside 72 times last year .
Yost, as well as Huggins, are huge, both standing over 6’3 to complement Blatt underneath. Both the Keller boys can shoot the rock from outside and will help Sapp bring the ball down the floor.
Moore is a player who can run the floor and finish. He can shoot, rebound, and drive with the ball. Along with other basketball skills, he will only get better as the season progresses and could be a star in the making.
“We are going to put pressure on the opposing defense and pound it inside,” explained Tallman. “We want to hit the boards and keep the ball alive on offense, hang on to it on defense, and get into a running game if it’s there. We want to take good shots, take care of the ball, and not turn it over.”
Tallman said the nine-member freshman team has talent and feels than some of the players may see jayvee or even varsity time this year.
Freshmen that could be in the mix include Stephen Rogalski, Mike Winters, Brett Brill, Tanner Hanna, Garrett Emch, Alex Pancake, Rishi Chrandrasekhar, Sam Brookover, Kyle Lancaster, and Kyle Elliott.
Magnolia has a lot of talent and experience and could be right back in the thick of things in the end. “Once we build the team chemistry, we expect practice to be fun,” said Tallman.
You can feel the excitement in the way Tallman and veteran assistant coaches Mark Blair and Larry West describe this year’s possibilities, from freshman to senior. Their emotions are evident in the way they go about their coaching duties.
Tallman is working to transition the team’s football players into basketball mode to join other dedicated players who have worked hard to earn a return to the Class AA finals in Charleston.