No Repeat for Magnolia Boys
After trailing most of the game, Magnolia took a 61-57 lead with 4:06 left in regulation, but the St. Joe Irish went on a 13-1 to win the WVSSAC Class A semifinal contest, 70-62, and dethrone the defending Class A state champions March 18 inside the Charleston Civic Center.
“Every time it looked like we were going to go on a run, that Morrison kid would come through. We couldn’t match him. What a performance,” Magnolia coach Dave Tallman said. “Basketball is a crazy game. We’ve been very fortunate to play in a great tournament.”
Huntington St. Joe opened the game with two quick 3-pointers that forced Magnolia to call a timeout. After the break, the Eagles’ Preston Boswell scored back-to-back baskets from beyond the arc to knot the game at six.
However, St. Joe answered with a basket and its third 3-pointerof the quarter, before Boswell netted one of two free throws. The Irish ripped another bonus bomb before Boswell netted a basket, and then tipped in a miss with only a minute remaining in the opening period.
Boswell scored a jumper from the elbow, but St. Joe closed out the opening stanza with a jumper to pull in front 18-11.
The Irish tallied a basket to open the second quarter, but Boswell answered with two straight fast-break baskets, before St. Joe tipped in a miss.
Boswell tallied two more baskets, before the Irish answered with a jumper and a another tip-in, before teammate Derrick Blain swished a 3-pointer with 3:40 left in period two. The Irish knocked down its fourth bonus bomb of the night to take a 28-22 advantage.
However, Boswell added a basket and an old fashion three-point play to pull Magnolia to within two.
St. Joe sank two free throws before the Eagles’ Kyle Ritz sank a jumper and a 3-pointer at the buzzer to counter an Irish basket to head into the locker room all knotted up at 32-32.
St. Joe scored a jumper to retake the lead, but the Eagles went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a Tyler Anderson 3-pointer that gave Magnolia a 39-34 lead at the five-minute mark and forced Huntington to call a timeout.
After the break, St. Joe ripped off a jumper and a free throw to pull to within two. However, Ritz added a pair of free throws, and Boswell added a basket to give the defending state champs a 47-46 lead entering the final quarter.
Mitch Winters got into the scoring column with one of two free throws to open the fourth period scoring. Boswell quickly followed with another old-fashion three-point play to give Magnolia a 51-46 lead.
St. Joe scored a pair of free throws to break the Eagles’ 8-0 run. Blain ripped his second 3-pointer of the night to give Magnolia its biggest lead of the night at, 54-48, at the 6:44 mark.
However, the Irish outscored Magnolia, 22-7, including the games last nine points to get a victory.
“In high school basketball, every one of my players went through my junior high. I had all of them all the way through grade school,” Tallman said.
“We won the OVAC, our first goal the last two seasons. We have Preston Boswell with a full scholarship to play at Wheeling Jesuit. Kyle Ritz and Tyler Anderson are going to West Liberty to play football, and Zach Haught is headed to West Virginia Wesleyan to play football.
“Their careers are not over. This is the finest group of young men I’ve been around, not one bit of problems. I’m just so disappointed for them. But we move on because that’s what we are made of.”
Boswell scored Magnolia’s first 19 points of the game and finished with 41 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. He also dished out four assists and made four steals.
“We were probably the closest-knit team in the past several years,” Boswell said. “We always played hard and its tough to see it end.”
Ritz ended the night with nine points, four rebounds and two steals, while Blain netted all of his six points from beyond the arc. In addition, Tyler Anderson and Mitch Winters each tallied three points for all the Magnolia scoring.
St. Joseph was paced by Keith Clemons with 24 points, while John Morrison came off the bench to net 17 points. Deauandra Murphy and John Dawson tallied 14 and 13 points, respectively. The Irish defeated Wheeling Central the next day to win the Class A championship.
Boswell was the Eagles’ lone player to earn All-Tournament honors. It was his second straight All-Tournament selection. The Magnolia cheerleaders and student body won the best sportsmanship honors.
Eagles Force Pirates to Walk the Plank, Win 72-43
Magnolia set the tone early, outscoring Fayetteville 23-4 and never looked back in winning its WVSSAC Class A opener, 72-43, inside the Charleston Civic Center.
“We were a little leery of Fayetteville coming in with 19 wins,” Magnolia coach Dave Tallman said. “I know they based the seed on strength of schedule, but you never know whether they’re a lot better than their seeding was.
“We prepared very hard for them. They’re a bunch of juniors and I told their coach how huge that was just to get to the state tournament this year. We’re going to lose nine seniors and they’re going to turnaround and have everybody back.”
The Eagles raced out to a 23-4 lead after one period of play with Preston Boswell leading the way with 13 points, and Derrick Blain two three point baskets.
Kyle Ritz paced the Eagles in the second period with four of the Eagles’ 10 points, while the Pirates netted seven points for a Magnolia 33-11 advantage at the break.
Boswell and Mitch Winters evenly split 12 of the Eagles’ 16 third-quarter points, while Alex Anderson closed out the scoring with a free throw to extend the Eagles lead to 49-23 at the end of three.
Both teams combined for 43 points in the fourth quarter with the Eagles’ Tyler Williamson leading the way with seven points. Dylan Jackson followed with a five points, while Winters and Boswell shared eight points, and Peau Halahingano a 3-pointer.
Boswell finished with 28 points in 11 of 21 shooting, four rebounds, two assists and six steals, while Winters and Williamson evenly split 18 points. Blain and Ritz each tallied six points, while Jackson netted five points.
In addition, Tyler Anderson and Halahingano each recorded three points, while Zach Haught sank a basket and Alex Anderson a free throw. Winters paced the Eagles with 11 rebounds, while Blain made four steals and Ritz three.
Ricky Meadows paced the Pirates with 10 points, while Wil Fenton added nine points.