Magnolia Wins OVAC?Class-AAA Title, 60-53
The Magnolia Blue Eagles plastered 20 points in the fourth period in the OVAC Class-AAA Championships, while holding the St. Clairsville Red Devils to 13 markers at Ohio University Eastern, Saturday, Feb. 19, to claim the OVAC class AAA title, 60-53.
In the post-game press conference, Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman said, “We were fourth three years ago, third, then second. Then we did the math and became OVAC champions this year. Now we’re the bride instead of the bridesmaid.”
The Red Devils quickly jumped out to a 9-2 lead, which included two long bombs. That’s when the Eagles Mark “Special K” Winters knocked in a bucket that was sandwiched between two long-range bombs by Matt Sapp that gave the Eagles a 10-9 lead. After a pair of Devil free throws. Winters hit a jumper and Nick Blatt swished a free throw to put the Eagles up 13-11 late in the first. However, the Devils struck last in the quarter, as they hit a two to tie the game at 13-13 after one.
After a Sapp basket making it 15-13 in favor of the men in Blue, the Red Devils netted the next four points to go up 17-15. But, a bucket from Winters and triples from both Sapp and Stephen Rogalski made the score 23-17 in favor of the good guys. That forced St. Clairsville to take a time out with 4:16 to go in the second quarter.
After a Devil charity toss, Eagle forward Hunter Campbell scored in the paint on a nice move to push the score to 25-18. The Devils would then hit three straight free throws to pull to within four markers at 25-21.
Winters swished a jumper from the corner but the Devils cut the Eagle lead down to a bucket with four straight points.
Sapp swished a deuce just before the half to give the Eagles a 29-25 lead at the break. “We weathered the storm with Keller, Moore, Blatt, and Winters having to take seats for a spell after each getting their second personal foul,” said Tallman. “That’s when Zach Wilhoite, Kyle Anderson, Rogalski, and Campbell came into the game.”
In the second half, the Devils tied the game at 29 on a four-point play from St. C’s Allan DeRosa, who was fouled draining a basket from beyond the arch and who made good on a free throw. After a pair of Devil free throws, Winters tallied a pair of jumpers to make the score 33-31, Eagles. After a Sapp bucket, St. Clairsville launched a deuce and a long bomb to give the Devils a one-point lead. Winters would then swish one of two free throws and Campbell would get a bucket. However, the Red Devils ended the quarter with a deuce to knot the game at 40.
Both teams evenly split the first 10 points of the fourth quarter. The Red Devils’ only lead in the fourth period came on a trifecta to give them a 48-47 advantage. A Devil bucket was sandwiched between long bombs from Sapp and Jordan Moore to push St. Clairsville’s lead to 51-47. Blatt and Winters then made made good on one of two free throws.
The Devils drained one from beyond the arch to pull to within four points. However, Winters swished the cords again and the Eagles nailed four more free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
The dynamic duo of Sapp and Winters combined for 35 points. Sapp added six boards, one assist, and three steals to go along with his four baskets from beyond the arch. Meanwhile, Winters hauled in nine rebounds and blocked a shot. Rogalski netted a deuce and swished two baskets from long range for eight markers; Moore and Campbell each contributed six points; Blatt followed with four points, four rebounds, and a blocked shot; and Jayson Keller netted a deuce. However, Keller and Sapp orchestrated the offense and broke the St. Clairsville full court press time after time, while splitting triple teams and dishing off easy buckets to their teammates.
The Devils were led by DeRosa with 18 points and Dan Monteroso with 17 points. The Devils were held to 30 percent from the floor.
It was not a good day for the three of the top four seeds, as Monroe Central and Morgantown Trinity both lost lost heartbreakers. In the class AA, the second seed Fort Frye Cadets defeated the top seed Monroe Central on a last-second tip in 47-45. Weirton Madonna stunned Trinity 86-81 in double overtime
In class-AAAA, the Wheeling Park Patriots took care of business against the third-seed John Marshall Monarchs 74-43 for their third consecutive OVAC Championship.
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 time out to set up the final 10 seconds.
After the time out, 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.