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Blue Eagles Finish Runner-up In OVAC?Class AAA

By Staff | Feb 24, 2010

Building snowmen and throwing snowballs this past week was the wave, as the weather negated school and ball games.

However, after the nasty weather subsided, Magnolia and Weir duked it out at Ohio University Eastern in the opening of the OVAC Class AAA Championship contest Feb. 20.

After four periods of basketball action, it was the Weir Red Riders who would claim the winner’s trophy and the 2010 Class AAA title, 48-43.

Magnolia, who netted only 3-12 in the opening period, took a one-point lead into the second period on a long three pointer at the buzzer by Jayson Keller.

However, the Riders tallied 7-14 shots in the second frame, keyed by Shawn Burns, who netted eight points, including a pair of three pointers, to give the Riders a 27-18 advantage at the break.

The Blue Eagles, despite only one practice since Feb. 4, weren’t going down without a fight and started the second half by scoring the first eight points en route to a 11-4 run that knotted the game at 31 on a Jared Blatt deuce.

But, the Riders answered and scored the next three baskets to push their lead to 37-31. However, the Big Blue closed the gap to a bucket before the Riders dropped a pair of jumpers to seal the win.

“You aren’t going to win any games shooting 3-26 from beyond the arc,” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. “We are going to have to play ourselves back into shape. We have a great team here. We hope to play Weir in the second season and are looking forward to it.”

Blatt led all scorers with 19 points and garnered another double-double with 10 rebounds, plus a blocked shot. No other Blue Eagle scored in double figures, but Matt “Slick” Sapp netted nine markers, including a basket from beyond the arc late in the fourth period. He also hauled in eight boards. Keller came off the bench to score seven points, including a trey at the buzzer of the opening quarter.

Other Eagles denting the score board included Mark Winters with four points, while Traeh Keller and Andy Huggins each netted a deuce.

Magnolia pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, while limiting the Riders to only six. But, Weir grabbed 21 defensive boards, while Magnolia hauled in 17. This was the first game all season that Magnolia hasn’t scored more than 50 points in the game and it was also the first time they shot less than 40 percent from the floor, with 29 percent, 17-59.

Magnolia 62,

Harrison Central 52

The Magnolia Blue Eagles finally got to lace up their tennis shoes, conquer the snow, and bounce the basketball to a 62-52 victory over Harrison Central in the semifinals of the OVAC Class AAA Feb. 18 in New Martinsville.

The Eagles made flurries of baskets as the Huskies melted to the OVAC number one ranked Blue Eagles. MHS freshman Mark Winters and senior Josh Yost tallied the Eagles’ first two buckets with assists by junior Matt “Slick” Sapp to pull out to a 4-0 lead. However, they had to settle for a tie on a jumper by Jayson Keller at the end of the first period.

Magnolia couldn’t buy a basket, while the Big 4 – Winters, Yost, Jared Blatt, and Andy Huggins – kept the Huskies to one attempt on each offensive trip in the opening half. But, turnovers and missed shots by the Eagles kept the visitors in the game. Magnolia was only 10-29 in the opening 16 minutes of play and committed over half of their 16 turnovers – perhaps one result of not being able to play or practice since Feb. 4.

However, it’s like riding a bike: you never forget. And the talented Blue Eagles where not going to be denied. They opened up the second half by scoring the first nine points and used a 23-9 run to break away from a close game, keyed by Blatt, to push the Eagle advantage to 31-20 at the 5:02 mark in the third period.

Magnolia eventually took a 45-29 lead after round three and before enjoying its biggest lead of the game at 49-29 with 49 ticks off the clock in round four for the knock-out.

The Huskies managed to stay in the game with a 14-3 run of their own, but couldn’t get any closer than 10 points.

“We told our guys early on that our defense needed to limit Harrison Central to one shot and deny them a put-back,” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. “The Huskies have a very athletic team that can run and jump, but we held our own early and got some second chance buckets.”

The Eagles held a 39-25 edge off the glass, and, after dreadful shooting in the first half, they ended the game shooting nearly 50 percent on 24-50 attempts. They were 14-21 in the second half.

Blatt led all scorers with 19 points, while picking up a double-double by hauling in 10 rebounds. He also blocked two Harrison two shots. Yost followed with 13 points, including a basket from beyond the arc for the Eagles. Huggins just missed a double-double with 10 rebounds and scored nine points, while Sapp swished a long range three pointer on his way to an eight point outing. Keller added seven tallies, while Winters was held to six points, but hauled in nine boards.