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Eagles Punch Ticket to Charleston

By Staff | Mar 16, 2016

Photo by Bruce Crawford The Magnolia boys’ basketball team celebrates its victory against St. Marys to propel the Blue Eagles to the state tournament, beginning Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.

Defending Class A state champion Magnolia booked its return to defend its title after beating St. Marys, 66-53, in the Region One co-finals inside a jam-packed MHS HammerDome March 9.

State scoring champion Preston Boswell continued his scoring rampage, this time scoring 32 points, on 11 field goals and 9-9 from the free-throw line.

“Preston may be the best player in the state of West Virginia,” a happy MHS coach Dave Tallman said after the game. “He certainly deserves consideration. I know I wouldn’t trade him for anyone.”

The Blue Eagles’ Derrick Blain opened the game with a basket from beyond the arc, and sank back-to-back 3-pointers from beyond the arc to open the fourth period and put the exclamation point in a Magnolia victory.

After Blain’s 3-pointer to open the game, the Devils answered with back-to-back buckets to take their only lead.

Kyle Ritz netted two of his nine points, before Boswell scored eight points, interrupted by a made free throw, to end the first quarter with Magnolia on top, 13-5.

Boswell scored the Eagles’ first eight points to open the second quarter, but the Devils responded with three free throws and a basket to pull St. Marys to within 21-10, before Ritz pushed the Big Eagles’ lead back to 15 points with two more buckets.

St. Marys ended the second stanza with six free throws to close the deficit to 25-16 in a low-scoring affair.

In the third quarter, the Devils scored first with a two-pointer, but was quickly answered with a Ritz bucket. St. Marys answered with a jumper, before the Eagles’ Mitch Winters scored his only basket of the night. The Devils scored six more points, but the Eagles countered with four more, before Boswell picked up a player control foul that caused Tallman to call a quick timeout.

After the break, Boswell dropped in a 3-pointer, but the Devils matched it with one of their own. Ritz took it hard to the hole for another basket, and Zach Haught knocked in a short jumper off the glass with 30 seconds remaining in the third. However, the Blue Devils sank a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to end three periods of play down only 39-32.

Blain started the fourth quarter like he did to open the game – with a made 3-pointer. However, he topped that with another from way downtown that forced St. Marys to call a timeout to talk things over.

St. Marys added a pair of free throws and a conventional three-point play that closed the gap to seven points, but Boswell and Tyler Anderson finished the game at the foul line, draining 12 of 13 free throws to nail the coffin shut.

The victory gave the Eagles 22 wins on the season against two losses. The record was good enough to make the Eagles the top seed in next week’s state tournament against No. 8 seed Fayette at 5:30 p.m. inside the Charleston Civic Center.

Blain finished with 13 points, including three from beyond the arc.

Ritz netted nine points, while Anderson contributed seven points. Haught scored three points, and Winters finished the Blue Eagles scoring with a basket.