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“From My View” for 12/9

By Bruce Crawford - Staff Writer | Dec 9, 2020

In my 18-years of reporting Magnolia Boys basketball, the year 2015 basketball season was one of the most thrilling seasons I ever reported on. Not that they were the best, but how they got to the WVSSAC state championship and winning it to boot made it special.

During the 2014-2015 season the Blue Eagles ended the first 100-years of boys basketball and began the next 100-years. There were some good games and bad games, but the thrill they gave their outstanding student body, and the community, week after week was amazing.

I would like to re-live some of the 2015 Cardiac Kids games that gave me some exciting games to watch and cover.

The Cardiac Kids as I call them, started their run in late January against Morgantown Trinity and finished it off with a WVSSAC Class-1A State Championship 51-46 victory over Wheeling Central. It would be their first Class 1-A championship as all the others came in Class-2A.

I named the 2015 Blue Eagles “the Cardiac Kids right after their 81-76 win over Trinity, after they trailed by 19-points in the third period.

The game was nip and tuck in the first half with the Eagles Tyler Anderson knocking down a buzzer beater to end the first half to grab a 35-34 advantage.

The mighty Trinity Warriors started to heat up in the third period, and grabbed a 19-point advantage before the Cardiac Kids led by Preston Boswell, Mitch Winters and Kyle Ritz started to chip away at the Warrior lead bringing in down to 11 heading into the final period of play.

The Blue Eagle offense led by Boswell, Anderson, Spencer Campbell,Tyler Williamson, and Brooks Parsons netted 33-points in the period, including 14-16 free throws to gain the hard-fought victory.

Boswell (31-points) and Campbell (18-points) shared 9-steals and caused countless Trinity miscues, while Winters (11-points and 12-rebounds) also paced the Eagles.

The Cardiac Kids lost a heart-breaker to Greater Beckley 84-79 even though they out-scored Beckley with 30-goals, including 3-more bonus bombs, but lost it at the charity line where Greater Beckley was 24-31. Boswell was top scorer with 26-points, while Winters added 15-markers. Ritz and Campbell scored 13 and12 respectively, while Derrick Blain and Anderson finished with 7 and 6-points, respectively.

Magnolia 78, Paden City 76

The Eagles would get back to their Cardiac ways once more when they hosted the Wildcats of Paden City, and saw themselves down as much as 19-points early on as the Wildcats used the 3-ball to grab a 23-12 lead by the end of the first period.

The Paden City club took no-prisoners scoring the first 8-points for a 19-point advantage before the Blue Eagles caught fire and pulled it to 10-points by halftime.

The Big Blue defense that helped them chip away at the Paden City lead continued in the third period as the ‘Cats gave the ball away 8-times letting the Eagles back into contention with eight minutes remaining in regulation.

After a cold first half the Eagles top scorer Preston Boswell would score 16 of his team-high 27-points in the quarter, yet trailed 62-56 after the ‘Cats point guard Hayden Hizer hit a pair of free throws to give the visitors a 64-56 lead late in the fourth period.

After a Boswell triple that off-set a Luke Cooper deuce, Boswell high-jacked a Wildcat throw-in and was fouled, and drained a pair of freebies to close the gap to 64-62 with 36-seconds left on the clock.

Paden City had several chances to put the Eagles to bed, but turnovers and missed free throws gave the hosts a chance. Boswell then sank a floater to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, the Eagles Tyler Anderson nailed his only bucket of the game with a triple to open the extra period, and they never trailed the rest of the way. The Eagles Spencer Campbell scored a pair of jumpers, while the ‘Cats Kennedy Cain swished one from beyond the arch to pull to within a point with 4-seconds remaining. The Wildcats quickly fouled Campbell on the inbound pass, and he sank his first and missed the second to give the Paden City warriors one last chance to win or send it into a second overtime. However, a Hizer heave fell short, giving the Cardiac Kids another come from behind win.

The dejected Paden City bunch who had lost a couple of tight ones that season to Magnolia and Wheeling Central, was paced by Cain with 29-points, while Cooper followed with 24-points. Hizer sank nine markers, while adding 7-rebounds and a game-high 7-assists, and 2-steals. Zach Heasley was held to 7-points that included a triple, while playing limited minutes due to foul trouble.

For the Eagles, Boswell scored when it counted the most and ended with 27 points, while Campbell added 19 markers, and Mitch Winters added 14 points and hauled in a dozen rebounds for a double-double.

Magnolia 78, Bishop Donahue 76

The Cardiac Kids continued to squeak out wins over very good ball clubs, this time against second-ranked Bishop Donahue, as Boswell lit it up scoring 35-points in leading Magnolia to a thrilling 78-76 victory inside the Eagles HammerDome.

Magnolia was cruising early as they was on top 41-26 at the break, but the second-ranked Donahue bunch had other plans and pulled to within 61-52 heading into the fourth period, and would take a slim 72-71 lead with a little under 2-minutes to play.

Bishop would later cash in on a 5-point play, and after the second made free throw Magnolia sent in a player, but the referees didn’t bring him in and the Bishops sank two more freebies and had the ball out to boot.

One would think that’s the ball game, but when you have the games best on the floor like Boswell and Campbell, if there is a will, there is a way, and the Cardiac Kids would prevail.

It was only Donahue’s second loss of the season, with the the Eagles claiming a 74-63 win in the Undo’s Championship game Dec. 27. Boswell led all-scorers with 35-points, followed by Campbell’s 20-points, while Winters and Kyle Ritz evenly-split 16-markers.

Magnolia 67, Fort Frye 65

The Magnolia Blue Eagles raced out to a 38-18 lead at the break and withstood a gallant Fort Frye comeback to win its fifth OVAC title in eight years by the score of 67-65 inside the Ohio Valley Eastern Campus Gymnasium Feb. 23.

Magnolia held a slim 18-12 lead after one period, but extended it to 38-18 at the break, but the Cadets closed the gap to 45-34 with eight minutes remaining in regulation.

Fort Frye tallied a conventional three-point play, and a bonus bomb to closed the gap to four points with five minutes remaining. The Blue Eagles “Dead-Eye” Derrick Blain knocked down back-to bonus bombs to push the Eagles lead back to double-digits with a little over two minutes to go.

Following a Kyle Ritz deuce, the Cadets went on a nice run and pulled to within 58-53 that forced a Magnolia time out. Campbell swished a short jumper with only a minute remaining.

The Eagles scored all their final points at the line making 6-8, while the Cadets knocked down a pair of long triples for the games final points. Campbell paced the Eagles with 26-points, including 3-bonus bombs, while Boswell stuffed the stat sheet with 19-points, 4-steals and 7-assists. Ritz followed with 8-points, 7-rebounds and 4-steals, while Blain and Winters each netting 7-points.

Magnolia 92, Monroe Central 85

The Eagles’ Spencer Campbell scored six of his career-high 29 points in over-time, and Mitch Winters tacked on his first triple-double of the season to help the Cardiac Kids claim a 92-85 OVAC Class-AAA semifinal victory over the Monroe Central Seminoles Feb. 20 in Woodsfield.

The Eagles raced out to a 19-10 advantage late in the opening period, but the Seminoles scored nine straight points to tie the game after one period of play. However, the Big Blue scored nine straight points themselves later in the second period and held a 41-34 at the break.

In the second half, the Seminoles came out rejuvenated, scoring eight straight markers to grab a 42-41 lead, before Winters netted a deuce. Although Monroe followed with its own deuce, Magnolia would go on a 7-0 run that forced another Monroe time out halfway through the third stanza with Magnolia back on top, 50-44.

Both teams traded baskets throughout the third period of play, but Magnolia held a 60-53 advantage after a Campbell deuce heading into the final period of play. However, the Seminoles would catch fire on their outside shooting and eventually tied it up at 74-74 with a couple charity tosses and a three-ball.

It looked like the Blue Eagles were going to win it in regulation, but Campbell’s long ball at the buzzer went in and out to send the game into overtime.

The Eagles would score six straight points to go up with 1:22 remaining, and Campbell scored his third bucket in overtime, while Boswell swished two free throws to give the guests an 89-79. But, the Seminoles would not go away scoring two-straight triples, sandwiched in between a Boswell free throw and a Ritz lay-up at the buzzer to give the Eagles a hard-fought 92-85 OT win.

Magnolia 66, Bishop Donahue 57

The Magnolia Blue Eagles are one win away from heading to the WVSSAC Class-1A Championship after knocking off Bishop Donahue, 66-57 inside a standing room only John Marshall Field House, March 6.

In a slow start in the Region 1, Section 1 final, the Magnolia Blue Eagles led 11-8 after one period of play, the Eagles went on a tear and out-scored Bishop’s 20-13 in the second period to grab a 31-21 lead at the half.

Donahue got to within 9-points in the third before scoring the next 5-points, before the Eagles Boswell and Campbell each sank a deuce. However, Bishop would close the gap to 53-48 heading into the fourth period.

In the final period of play, the Eagles spent most of the time at the charity line as they scored all but a deuce the rest of the way to knock-off the Bishops, 66-57.

Bishop Donahue ended their season at 19-3 with all three loses coming from Magnolia. Boswell paced the Big Blue with 22-points, including three baskets from beyond the arch, while adding 6-assists, 5-steals and 4-rebounds to lead the Magnolia scoring. Campbell added 16-markers, while Blain chipped in with 9-points, 7-rebounds (six of which were offensive) and dished out 6-assists.

Next week we will finish the Cardiac Kids quest for a Regional and WVSSAC Class-1A Championship.