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BOYS' BASKETBALL: Blue Eagles Trounce Warriors

Mark Winters pours in 33 points for Magnolia

February 17, 2013
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Big-time plays, big-time players, big-time situations and big-time calls are all part of basketball.

Saturday afternoon, Magnolia parlayed that foursome into a second Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 3A championship in four seasons.

Senior all-stater Mark Winters, held scoreless in the opening quarter, scored 15 of his game-high 30 points in the second quarter while classmates Stephen Rogalski, Kyle Elliott and freshman Preston Boswell did an admiral job keeping the Blue Eagles ahead during some early foul troubles as Magnolia pulled away down the stretch to record a comfortable 75-53 victory against Buckeye Trail at the Ohio University Eastern Health and Physical Recreation Center.

Magnolia coach Dave Tallman watched his team improved to 14-4, and also even its record at 2-2 in the championship tilt.

''We are always just so happy to be here," Tallman said. "This is always a community effort and a great event and it feels good to get another victory."

The game had the feel of an early season encounter out of the gate as both teams struggled with possessions and shots. It was also a part of the game in which Coach Rod Gray's Warriors (13-7) had opportunities to make some noise. Late in the first period, Magnolia junior Zach Willhoite had already picked up his second foul while Winters had not scored a point and was about to pick up his second personal just seconds into the second quarter.

However, it was still Big Blue which led by seven points, an advantage that was sliced to four on Zach Roe's buzzer-beating 3-pointer that made it 15-11 after one.

With both big men in foul trouble, and each coach obviously sensing what could be, Winters took control and showed the crowd what the difference in the game was going to be. But what may have been the biggest play happened at the 3:28 mark of the second. Already saddled with two fouls, Winters drove the paint and plowed through a Trail defender.

On a huge play that could have gone either way, Winters was awarded the hoop with a blocking foul on the Warriors being called. The free throw made it a 27-18 count, in a situation that could have been 24-18 with Winters on the bench with three fouls.

''Winters is a very nice all-around player, and yes, you could definitely feel everything kind of change a little bit after that call,'' Gray said.

From there Magnolia's lead grew to 38-25 at the break before swelling to 57-36 after three.

A 9-2 run early in the fourth, keyed by nine points from Roe, had Buckeye Trail within 14 at 61-47 before Winters followed with three consecutive baskets to key a 10-0 burst and put the final icing on the cake.

''Buckeye Trail is a very nice team, but I really believe that we are peaking at the right time,'' Tallman said. ''We are playing very focused basketball with an awful lot of enthusiasm right now. I felt like we played a great game (Saturday), with the exception of a few unforced turnovers early on.

''But this is all about our seniors and their leadership, which makes my job very easy. Each of these five starters and our kids off the bench played a big part in all of this. I can't say enough about kids like Kyle Elliott, Stephen Rogalski, Zach Willhoite, Preston Boswell and on down the line. Somebody always seems to pick us up when we need it.

''We had some pretty lofty goals coming into the season and this championship was one of them, now we have another and I am sure that everyone knows what that is. This game (Saturday) means the world to us as far as momentum, sectional seeding and even state seeding if we can get there.

''The last few years we have been fortunate enough to get to the state tournament, but always get the four or five seed. I would love to get back there and maybe move up a little in seeding, that is why every game matters at this point.''

Rogalski added 17 for the Blue Eagles while Elliott gave his normal high-octane defensive performance along with scoring a season-high 13 points.

Winters completed his afternoon by adding 14 rebounds for a double-double. Roe's performance was also sparkling for the Warriors, finishing with 29 points while Caleb Gray followed with 11.

''We really didn't play as well as we needed to early on,'' Rod Gray said. ''And with that we had to do some things later on that we really didn't want to have to do. We figured coming in that their bigs could give us trouble, but we weren't expecting them to do as much from the perimeter. But credit them, they had some kids step up.

''As far as Winters and Willhoite go, they are tough to handle. I feel like we could have handled one of them, but the second was just too much for us. Magnolia played very well and shot the ball very well. They have a nice team.''

In all, Magnolia, which shot 59 percent from the floor in the first half, finished 34 of 61 for 56 percent for the contest.

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