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From My View for 12/16

By Bruce Crawford - Staff Writer | Dec 16, 2020

Continued from last week

In my 18-years of reporting Magnolia Boys basketball the 2015 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 championships and winning it all. I would like to re-live some of the 2015 Cardiac Kids games that gave me some exciting games to watch and cover.

Magnolia 80, Wheeling Central 74

Even though the Eagles had beaten the Wheeling Central Knights earlier in the season, but the Knights were ranked #1 heading into the Region I championship game Magnolia’s Preston Boswell scored a game-high 37-points, including three baskets from well beyond the arch to lead Magnolia to a 80-74 victory over Wheeling Central inside a well packed John Marshall Field House, March 7.

Boswell started the Eagle scoring with a triple, while Central countered with a deuce to open the game, Boswell then nailed a jumper off the glass, while Central swished one of two freebies. However, Central nailed a basket from well beyond the arc to give the top-ranked Maroon Knights a 6-5 lead.

Winters put back an MHS miss for a two-pointer, but the Knights would sink back-to-back triples to go back in front 12-9. After a Boswell deuce, the Knights would connect once more from beyond the arc. But, the Blue Eagles’ Ritz swished a pair of free throws and Boswell netted a deuce to pull to within one at 15-14. Campbell’s put back gave the lead back to Magnolia, and a pair of baskets by Ritz and a deuce by Campbell extended their lead to 22-15 at the 1:27 mark.

The top ranked Knights then went on a tear from beyond the arc sinking three straight to close to within 1-point, but Magnolia’s Mitch Winters scored two straight turnaround jumpers, before the Knights ended the opening quarter with a deuce.

Late in the second stanza, the dynamic duo of Boswell and Campbell, plus a 3-ball by Kyle Ritz helped push a pretty close game to give the Eagles a 37-30 half-time lead.

However, the Maroon Knights would out-score the Blue Eagles 25-21 in the third period, but still saw themselves down 58-55 heading into the fourth period.

But, every time the Knights would make a run, the Cardiac Kids would somehow someway pick themselves up and go on a run to stop the bleeding and this time it was Tyler Anderson doing the bidding to start the fourth with a long basket from beyond the arc followed by a Boswell deuce.

But, never fear Central was showing the Eagles that they were in it to win it, and set sail another long-triple, however Magnolia’s Campbell brought down the house will a nice alley-oop assist by Boswell. However, Central added a conventional three point play, but Boswell’s rebound basket extended its lead to 67-61 with 3:35 remaining in regulation.

The Knights scored a deuce and a triple to pull to within 67-66, but a Campbell rebound put-back and an Anderson free throw to go along with four straight Boswell charity tosses gave Magnolia a little breathing room.

But, Central wouldn’t go away and nailed a deuce at the 44.8 mark. After Ritz tallied one of two freebies, Central stole the inbound pass and in the blink of an eye, pulled to within five points with 21 seconds remaining. However, Campbell and Boswell sank 5-6 free throws, while Central tallied a pair of two pointers to end the game.

Boswell scored a game-high 37 points for Magnolia, while adding six assists and four rebounds to pace the Big Blue.

Campbell followed with 15 points, while Ritz contributed 13 points, including a basket from beyond the arc. He grabbed 11 boards and dished out a half dozen assists.

Winters tallied eight points and grabbed double-digit rebounds with 12, while Anderson netted four points and Blain a three-ball.

The win pushed the Magnolia win-loss record to 19-5, while Wheeling Central dropped to 21-3 with two of the three losses coming from Magnolia.

Magnolia will host St Marys, while the Maroon Knights will visit Paden City, both on Thursday at 7 p.m., with the winners heading to the WVSSAC State Tournament Wednesday, March 18, inside the Charleston Civic Center.

Magnolia 63, St. Marys 50

The Cardiac kids didn’t want their trip to Charleston to end 1-game short, but the St Marys Blue Devils saw a chance to knock Magnolia out of going there that night.

Preston Boswell scored the game’s first five points and 10 of the first 13 to help spark Magnolia to a 63-50 victory over the St. Marys Blue Devils in the MHS Hammer Dome Thursday, March 12 to win the Region I championship.

However, the Magnolia team wasn’t going to use a Cardiac-kid type of game. Derrick Blain opened the game with a triple to help them race out to a 13-1 advantage to start the game. But the Blue Devils would score 15 of the next 21-points to pull to within three at 19-16 after one period of play.

The visitors opened the second stanza with a triple to knot the game at 19-19. The Eagles Kyle Ritz scored his lone basket of the night to break the dead-lock, but St Marys would answer the bell with two straight baskets to take its first lead of the night at 23-21. Boswell ignited the Eagles with a conventional three-point play to give the hosts back the lead, however the scrappy Blue Devil bunch scored three straight points to reclaim the lead.

Mitch Winters tied it back up with a deuce. A Boswell steal and a dish off to Spencer Campbell for his first basket of the night forced a Blue Devil time out.

After the break, the Blue Devils scored two straight baskets that inspired Tallman to call a time out. After the short break, the Devils scored off a Magnolia turnover to build on their lead to four points, but two Boswell free throws and a Campbell deuce tied things up.

After a good Blue Devil charity toss, Boswell sank a pair of his own to give the hosts back the lead that they would never lose again.

Boswell ended the night with a game-high 27 points, seven assists and four rebounds, including 10-11 free throws. Campbell followed with 15, while Winters contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Blain scored a triple and Anderson and Ritz each netted a deuce.

The victory pushed the number three seed Blue Eagles’ season record to 20-5 and a date with the number sixth seed Clarksburg Notre Dame March 16th, in the WVSSAC Class-A State Championship at 9:30 a.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.

Magnolia 49, Notre Dame 48

In what was the most spectacular boys high school basketball ending ever played in the first round in any state basketball tournament that I have watched in my years of reporting high school sports, this game against Notre Dame has to be the very best.

Right before the miracle comeback, that had the Big Blue down 10-points heading into the fourth period, the Eagles Tyler Williamson came off the bench to score the teams first basket from beyond the arc. However, Notre Dame answered with a pair of layups that pushed their lead to 13-points.

Lets get right into the ending. After being down as much as 13 points in the fourth period at the 3:49 mark, the Blue Eagles’ band of “Cardiac Kids” put together a storybook finish to advance to the semi-finals with a 49-48 victory over Notre Dame to open the WVSSAC state tournament March 18 inside the Charleston Civic Center.

The Eagles Kyle Ritz started the remarkable comeback with a basket in the paint, but missed the conventional three-point play, with Preston Boswell getting the rebound. Boswell got the Blue Eagle student body on its feet with a basket and one to trim the deficit down to eight, when Coach Tallman called a time out at 3:36 mark.

During the time out, Coach Tallman pleaded with his cagers to foul and get the Irish into a one-and-one situation that would benefit them down the stretch.

Notre Dame sank a pair of free throws to push their lead back to double-digits at 10 with 2:06 left in regulation. And, after two made Ritz free throws, Boswell went to work scoring a runner that trimmed the once insurmountable lead down to six points with 1:28 and forced the Irish to call a time out to cool down the Eagles and give their team instruction.

Boswell sank two more charity tosses, but the Irish countered with two of their own. Mitch Winters would sink his 10th point of the game and then Tallman called his last time out.

Magnolia fouled the Irish sensational sophomore guard Jarrod West, and he swished the first foul shot before missing the second, but Notre Dame got the rebound.

Boswell pick-pocketed an Irish opponent and would go coast-to-coast, and was fouled on a shot attempt. With thousands of Charleston Civic Center fans yelling at the top of the lungs, Boswell calmly swished a pair of freebies to get Magnolia to within three at 38 seconds remaining in regulation.

Notre Dame missed the front end of a two-shot foul but made the second, pushing the Irish back up by four. However, Boswell drilled his only triple of the night with 24 seconds remaining. He was 0-4 beyond the arc prior to that moment.

The Irish would get trapped in the corner and called their final time out of the game with 14 seconds remaining in the game. The Big Blue pressure caused an errant pass that Winters picked off and heaved it back down the court to an open Boswell who took it to the hole and was fouled. He sank both to give Magnolia the lead at the 11 second mark.

Notre Dame’s West shot at the basket had Boswell’s hand in his face and Derrick Blain on his hip. The shot rimmed in and out, then Winters batted it away to mid-court to end the remarkable Magnolia comeback.

Boswell led the way with a game-high 23 points and earned a double-double with 11 rebounds, while Winters added another double-double, 10 points and 14 rebounds, eight of which were offensive.

In addition, Ritz netted seven points; Williamson, five points; and Campbell, four points. Campbell sat out the majority of the game, playing a total of 15 minutes. Trainers there said he could have done something to his meniscus (cartilage in the knee), but he plans to be ready to play in the semi-finals Friday morning.

Magnolia 59, Greater Beckley Christian 46

With the Eagles senior Spencer Campbell recovering from a knee injury suffered in the game with Notre Dame on all of the minds of Magnolia fans. He along with Boswell combined for 32-points to help lead Magnolia into the WVSSAC Class-1A championship with a 59-46 victory in the semi-final March 20 inside the Charleston Civic Center.

A pair of untimely technical GBC fouls, following a two-shot foul and possession, worked in Magnolia’s favor late in the fourth period to help the Eagles advance to the Class-A title match on Saturday.

Just like every game the Eagles had played in the state tournament, they opened up behind early 1-8 after a Boswell charity toss at 2:46 in period one. Boswell added a second toss and Campbell drilled a three-pointer to close the gap to 8-5. Beckley netted a deuce and Ritz drained a pair of free throws to end the first period of play, with MHS down 7-10.

The Eagles outscored the number two seeded Beckley squad 17-7 in the second period to grab a 24-17 lead at the break and held a 38-31 lead heading into the final stanza.

Greater Beckley had trimmed a once 16-point advantage down to seven markers with 3:09 left in the game. The Crusaders trapped Boswell near midcourt, but got a little too rough and put Boswell on the line. A couple seconds later, but before he went to the stripe Beckley retaliated and was called for a technical foul.

GBC’s situation went from bad to worse. Beckley’s assistant coach wouldn’t hand the ball to the referee, who called a technical that sent Boswell to the line shooting six total and gave Magnolia possession of the basketball. Boswell nailed his first four, but he thought about it too much and missed the last two.

A once seven-point lead ballooned to 11 points and then 13 after a Magnolia tally would do in the Beckley squad and invite Magnolia to send in the reserves to finish the game.

Boswell scored a game-high 20 points, made four steals and knocked down 11-16 free throws to lead the charge. Campbell followed with 12 points and four assists, while Blain and Ritz each netted eight markers. Winters ended the night with six points and eight rebounds. Williamson and Zach Haught each recorded two points, while Haught swished a free throw.

Magnolia 51, Wheeling Central 46

Well its hard to beat a very good basketball team three times in a season, but Dave Tallman’s Cardiac-Kids were about to get one over a Wheeling Central squad with a 51-46 victory to end the season 21-5 in the WVSSAC Class-1A Championship inside the warm and cozy Charleston Civic Center March 21st.

Besides taking down the defending Class-1A champs Wheeling Central Maroon Knights three times, they also beat three private schools in the state tournament , besides knocking off Bishop Donahue twice during the season who was ranked second in the state.

I will repeat what I covered that very night in our sports pages in March of 2015, including all the quotes.

The Magnolia High School’s 100th year of basketball ended with a 51-46 victory over Wheeling Central in the WVSSAC Class-A Championship inside the Charleston Civic Center March 21.

“First of all, hats off to Wheeling Central (24-4) and Mel Stephens. He is a class act,” said Magnolia Head Coach Dave Tallman. “We were very fortunate. We had another slow start and how we continue to come back like that is amazing. I just thought our defense was tougher than theirs, I thought we got most of the 50-50 balls.”

The defending state champions raced out to a quick 8-0 run in the first period, before the Eagles’ Preston Boswell hit his first of four tries to break the ice. And, after a Central jumper, Mitch Winters and Spencer Campbell tallied two straight jumpers in the paint to cut the Magnolia deficit in half, 10-5. Boswell intensified the competition with back-to-back jumpers to pull Magnolia to within one, 10-9, to end the opening period.

“We went through this in 2000,” said Tallman. “We came down here and we were down 10-0. So as a coach you don’t panic. That might be a little bit of nerves. Five of our top six players are juniors. It’s really enjoyable to coach guys like this. There is never panic in their eyes. You have to give them a lot of credit for that.”

Central’s Trenton Smith swished a three-pointer to open the second period, but Boswell swished back-to-back triples to give Magnolia its first lead of the game, 15-13. The Maroon Knights tied it back up on a rebound put-back and took the lead back at 19-17 with a jumper at the 3:23 mark that forced Magnolia to call a time out.

After the break, the Blue Eagles would go on a 5-0 run to retake a lead that they would never relinquish and finished off the period with an 8-0 run, that ended with a Derrick Blain triple at the buzzer.

“You talk about survive and advance, we are the perfect example of that,” added Tallman. “In our OVAC, Monroe Central had a shot at winning it and we went on to win the title against a great Fort Frye team. We ended up being the team of destiny. We got every basketball we needed and found a way to win.”

The Knights scored the third quarter’s opening basket, but Winters sank a conventional three pointer and Campbell sank a floater to extend the Magnolia lead to 35-23.

Wheeling then made 1-2 free throws and Smith sank another one from beyond the arc to pull Central to within eight. However, Winters hit a two-pointer to push the Magnolia lead back into double digits.

WVU recruit Chase Harler sank a pair of free throws and a jumper that pulled the Knights to 37-31 at the four minute mark of the third. Tallman saw enough and called a time out to talk it over with his players. After the break, Boswell scored on a nifty three-point play, but the Knights came back to sink a pair of charity tosses.

Magnolia’s sophomore guard Tyler Williamson made quite an entrance knocking down a jumper, but Wheeling Central closed the period out with a three-ball to reduce its deficit to 36-42.

With 6:10 left in the game, the Knights closed the gap to 44-42 and Ritz was at the line shooting two. Although neither attempt hit the mark, Winters snatched the rebound, dished it out to Boswell, who fired one off from beyond the arc to give the Blue a 47-42 lead.

With 3:20 left on the game clock, Magnolia’s lead was trimmed to a point. But the Blue Eagles worked the clock down to 1:04, when Boswell was called on a five-second closely-guarded infraction, giving the basketball and new life to the Knights.

“We were just running motion and were looking for a great shot,” observed Tallman. “On the five-second call, we were trying to run a high screen from Kyle to Preston to keep it in his hands.

But, for some reason we delayed there and got the violation.”

The Knights had a chance for the tie or take the lead, but a three-point basket attempt was off the mark with 27 seconds left. Campbell got the rebound, was fouled and went to the line, making good on two free throws.

The Knights missed a layup and Campbell was there once more for the rebound and was fouled. He sank both to put the game on ice and giving Magnolia its fourth WVSSAC Boys’ State Basketball title and its first in Class-A.

Boswell scored a game-high 22 points that included a pair of three point bombs, while ending the tournament with 65 points – the most in the Class-A tournament. He also hijacked 11 basketballs and cashed in on 28-37 free throws.

Campbell finished the night with 13 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists, blocked a shot and tallied 7-8 from the free throw line, including four in a row down the stretch.

Winters left no doubt with nine points and a game-high 12 rebounds. For the tournament, Winters hauled in a Class-A high 34 boards, including 16 offensive rebounds. Little wonder, then, that Boswell, Campbell and Winters were selected to the Class-A All-Tournament Team.

In addition, Blain swished a basket from beyond the arc, while Ritz and Tyler Williamson each netted a deuce.

Boswell became only the sixth player is history to win the West Virginia scoring title, and also win a state championship. He was the first to do so since Huntington’s O. J. Mayo did it.

“I don’t really care if I led in scoring or not, to be honest.” said Boswell. “I’m just glad we won,”

“Mitch Winters, in the last two games and again today, played with such tenacity,” Tallman added. “Derrick hit a big three earlier in the year like the one he hit today and that put a smile on his face. But, you know, I really wasn’t surprised. He hits one or two clutch shots for us and it really helps out. And Kyle was all over it out there (yesterday). Those guys don’t get the credit they deserve.”

I had a nice time re-writing all the stories about this band of Cardiac-Kids.