Eagles Fly Over Riders, 72-53
The Magnolia Blue Eagles broke a 9-9 tie with 2:20 to go in the first quarter by ending the quarter on a 13-0 scoring run. That run included senior Matt Sapp’s hitting three long bombs to go up 22-9 after the first quarter ended, as the Eagles defeated the Weir High Red Riders 72-53, Feb. 12 at the HammerDome.
After the Riders got an early 2-0 lead, Jordan Moore and Mark Winters combined for six points to put the hosts up 6-2. The Riders quickly answered with a three to make the score 6-5. But, not to be outdone, junior Jason Keller hit a three of his own to make the score 9-5. The Riders would get the next four point to tie it up at 9-9.
Then, as he did so many times this year, the Eagles’ Matt Sapp quickly put to rest any chances the Riders might have had. He hit three long bombs to spark a 13-0 run by the Blue Eagles to end the first quarter and put the Eagles up 22-9 after one.
In the second quarter, a Keller three was sandwiched between two Rider buckets to make the score 25-14. Mark Winters and Sapp each hit a deuce to put the Eagles up 15, 29-14. The teams traded buckets for the rest off the quarter, which included two buckets by Blue Eagle junior Nick Blatt that helped Magnolia’s 36-22 advantage at the half.
When play resumed, the Eagles picked up right were they left off. After a Rider twoball, Jordan Moore got two free throws and a deuce. Sapp hit a three that ballooned the Blue Eagle lead to 43-24. The Riders then got 13 of the next 23 points to make the score 53-37. But, after a Blue Eagle deuce, Keller made three points by driving the bucket and hitting a free throw.
Sapp put the Eagles up even more with a basket from beyond the arch early in the fourth frame to make the score 61-37. The teams equally shared the next 10 points that included another long bomb from Sapp to make the score 66-42. The Riders then ended the game on a 11-6 run. However, in that run, Blue Eagle senior Justin “Tree” Wade got a deuce to finish out the scoring with a Blue Eagle victory, 72-53.
Sapp led four Blue Eagles in double figures with 22 points. Winters pulled down a double- double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Moore had 12 points, while Keller rounded out the Eagles in double figures with 10 points. Also scoring was Blatt with 6; Wade, Zack Wilhoite and Hunter Campbell. each with a deuce. Weir was paced by Freddy Jones and Mike Drizake who both had 13 tallies to end the game.
The junior varsity won, 47-27, against Weir’s JV, as Bentley Knight led the way with a dozen points.
Blue Eagle Mark “Special K” Winters banked in a jumper with five seconds remaining in the second overtime to knockoff Wheeling Central, 60-59, Feb. 9 in Wheeling.
Magnolia trailed for the biggest part of the night. They were down 12-8 after the first eight minutes of the game and were down in a 26-20 tally at the break.
In the second half, the hosts held a 39-30 lead after three periods of play. However, the Big Blue fought and scrapped for everything they could and went on a 16-3 run to grab a 46-42 advantage on an old-fashioned three-point play with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Magnolia turned the ball over and the hosts cashed in and sent the game into overtime. In the second OT, Central nailed a basket from beyond the arch, but the Eagles’ Jayson Keller knocked in one of his own to knot the game once again. The rest of the points in the first overtime came via the free throw line. The teams had a chance to win it in the first overtime, but a put-back of a miss rolled off the rim at the buzzer.
In the second OT, the Maroon Knights cashed in on a three pointer. Winters cut it to one point on a jumper in the paint. The Knights pushed its lead back to three on a deuce, but Magnolia’s freshman Zach Wilhoite nailed a jumper at the two minute mark. Central cashed in on one of two free throws to take a two-point lead.
Winters made one of two free throws to pull Magnolia to within one point. The Knights missed a pair of free throws and Winters hauled in the ball and called a timeout to set up the final 10 seconds.
After the timeout, Winters banked in a jumper for the game winner. Central had one last opportunity, but the shot bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded and Magnolia escaped Wheeling with a hard-fought victory that earned them a third seed in the OVAC Class-AAA playoffs.
Winters tallied 21 of his game-high 29 points in the second half and overtime. He tallied seven markers in the second overtime. Winters also pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds and blocked four Knight shots.
Following Winters in scoring for the Eagles was Wilhoite, who came off the bench to net 10 markers. Keller tallied seven points, while Nick Blatt, Matt Sapp and Kyle Anderson each contributed four points and Jordan Moore netted a deuce.
The junior varsity also won a nail-biter as Alex Pancake paced the Eagles with 10 points in a 45-44 victory.