Defending Champs Grab No. 1 Seed
The defending Class A state champion Magnolia Blue Eagles’ boys basketball team are the No. 1 seed at this week’s state tournament. They will open up play at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, inside the Charleston Civic Center.
The Eagles advanced to the state tournament by defeating the St. Marys Blue Devils, 66-53, inside a packed Magnolia High School on March 9. The Eagles have won 16 straight games and haven’t lost since a 87-78 defeat to Morgantown Trinity – a game in which Trinity shot 70 percent from the floor.
The Eagles are scoring 72 points a game, while giving up 53 points a game. The Eagles’ opening round opponent – Fayetteville – is the No. 8 seed, and comes in with a (19-2) record. It is scoring 66 points a game, while giving up 49 points a game. The Pirates punched their ticket to state by defeating Van, 66-49, in a Region 3 co-finale.
Two of the wins during the streak for the Eagles were over sectional rival and No. 2 seed at the state tournament, the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights, who fell to the Eagles in the sectional finale, 78-74, back on March 4. It was a game that ultimately decided the order of the top two seeds at state.
The Maroon Knights come into the state tournament with a record of 22-2, averaging 69 points a game and giving up 53 points a game. Central advanced by traveling to Morgantown Trinity and winning, 70-55. The Knights open up play at 1 p.m. on Thursday against the No. 7 seed Parkersburg Catholic Crusaders (15-11). They got to the state by knocking off one of the state’s top teams – the Williamstown Yellow Jackets in the sectional semifinals – on their way to winning their sectional title. They then welcomed Charleston Catholic in the regional finale, winning, 46-35.
No. 3 seed Tug Valley Panthers are no stranger to Charleston, having won state titles in 2012 in Class AA and in 2013 in Class A. They made it to the state tournament last year and fell in a thriller in the first round to Williamstown.
The Panthers come into the game with a record of 19-3, averaging 71 points a game and giving up 50 points a game. They advanced to the state tournament by winning their sectional title, 77-54, against Midland Trial. The Panthers will open up the Class A portion of the state tournament on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. when they take on No. 6 seed Tucker Mountain Lions.
The Mountain Lions enter the tournament with a record of 19-4 on the season. However, three of those losses came at the hands of the Notre Dame Irish, including a 56-46 decision in the sectional finale. Tucker comes into the state tournament averaging 67.5 points a game while allowing 59 points a contest. Tucker advanced to by defeating Pendleton County, 43-40, in a regional finale.
The finale game at 9 p.m. Thursday will feature a team that is no stranger to Magnolia – No. 4 seed Notre Dame Irish. Last year the No. 6 seed Irish where on the verge of pulling an upset on the No. 3 seed Blue Eagles in the opening round, leading by 13 points with 3 minutes to play. The Eagles then started a comeback that eventually ended in a 49-48 Magnolia victory. The Irish have a 17-3 record, while putting up 72.5 points a game, and giving up just 51.5 points a game. They advanced to the state tournament by defeating Pocahontas County, 96-38, in the regional finale. They will face the No. 6 seed St. Joe’s Central out of Huntington. St. Joe is scoring at a pace of 70.5 points a contest and allowing 60 points a contest. St. Joe has a record of 19-6 and advanced to the state tournament by winning its sectional by defeating Doddridge County in the regional finale, 79-68.
If all four top seeds win, the semis should be great with Wheeling Central and Tug Valley facing off in one semi, while the Eagles would face off against Notre Dame in the other semifinal.
Notre Dame will be looking to exact some revenge from last year’s come-from-behind MHS win in the quarterfinals.
A little side note for the state tournament is Magnolia coach Dave Tallman is believed to be part of the first father-son duo to grab a number No. 1 in the same state tournament. His son David secured the top seed in class AAA with his undefeated Morgantown Mohigans.