Eagles Flying South
Magnolia’s lone senior Logan Riggs made two free throws with 8.9 seconds left, helping to lead the Lady Eagles to a thrilling 50-47 victory in the WVSSAC Class-A Region I Co-Championship, held Feb. 28 inside the MHS HammerDome.
Neither team could put the ball in the basket early in the opening period.
With the Dragons leading only 4-3 with three minutes remaining, the Blue Eagles’ Kyndra Pilant put back a miss. However, the Lady Dragons closed out the period with a pair of two-pointers to take the lead at 10-5 into the second period.
Both teams put the ball into the hoop a little bit better in the second stanza, as the Eagles were soaring early with a 6-0 spurt to regain the lead. But Cameron knocked down a pair of freebies at the charity stripe, and a deuce to regain the lead at 14-11.
However, Riggs swished a three-ball and Pilant followed with a pair of two-pointers that forced Cameron to call a timeout. After the short break, Pilant hit a deuce, but the Lady Dragons swished back-to-back two-pointers.
Shortly thereafter, Riggs picked up a cheap foul and set the remainder of the period. In between a pair of Cameron two-pointers, Parsons knocked down a pair of baskets from beyond the arc to give the hosts a 24-22 lead. The Dragons ended the period on a 6-1 mini run to go up, 28-25 at the break.
The third period was almost identical as the opening period, with both teams playing hard-nosed defense, with Winters and Pilant ending the period with baskets to even the game up at 33-33.
The final period had a lot of action, with the Dragons’ Courtney Walker opening things up with a deuce, but Pilant topped that with a pair of baskets to give Magnolia a 37-35 lead.
In between a pair of Cameron two-pointers, Riggs drilled a triple, that started a 7-2 run. The Dragons scored four points that forced MHS Head Coach Meredith Pilant to call a timeout with less than two minutes remaining, leading 44-43.
After the short break, Winters netted a deuce to extend the Blue Eagles lead, while and Jordyn Hughes quickly answered on the other end to keep pace for Cameron with 1:06 on the clock.
Eagle Lenieca Grimm scored her only points of the night, but it was a big one to push the Magnolia lead back to three. The Dragons defense fouled Pilant intentionally, and she could have put the game away, but missed both chances.
On the other end, Hughes went for the tie, but her try was off the mark. However, the Dragons had another chance to tie it for a second straight time, but Cameron had new life on hauling in the miss, but just as quickly, turned the ball over.
Riggs was fouled with 8.9 remaining, with a one-and-one on the line, she nailed the first one to give them a two score lead, and put the nail in the coffin with her second try.
“I knew there were only so many seconds left and I knew I had to make them,” stated Riggs after the game. “The third one was a little bit off, but hey, who cares? We won.”
Pilant was also glowing about her senior leader.
“In the post-season, she has stepped her game up to a whole new level,” Pilant said. “That has been the difference.”
Cameron would make the Blue Eagle faithful wait a little longer to rush the floor wit a two pointer, and quickly fouled Riggs once more in a one-and-one opportunity, but missed. Cameron hauled in the miss, but their full-court heave was well short, and the Magnolia student section poured onto the court to celebrate.
“It means the world to us to be able to go to state,” added coach Pilant. “We had one senior, who moved from a forward to a point guard. Kennedy Parsons, a junior, hadn’t played ball since eighth grade and the rest of the team are freshmen and sophomores.
Coach (Mark) Winters and myself saw a lot of potential and we just had to get them to buy in. And as the wins started to come, they started to buy in. We are young, we are excited and nobody really saw us. This is great.”
Cameron, which beat the Eagles twice in the regular season, ended their outstanding season with an OVAC championship, as well as a 22-3 record. Walker was the only double-digit scorer for the Lady Dragons, scoring 16 points, while Kelsey Meintel ended her illustrious career with nine points.
Pilant posted a double-double 16 points and 15 rebounds, while making four blocks and three steals. Parsons followed with 13 points, including a trio of three pointers, while Riggs compiled 10 points, that included a pair of triples, and dished out five assists. Winters grabbed 14 rebounds, and scored nine points, while Grimm sank a deuce for all the Magnolia scoring.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 16-9 and have earned a the No. 6 seed in the WVSSAC Class-A State Tournament. Its the first time since 2007 that Magnolia has made it to the state tournament, and will take on No. 3 seed Tucker County at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.