NEW MARTINSVILLE - The last thing Magnolia coach Dave Tallman wanted, or expected to see, coming out of a timeout near the end of the third quarter of his team's mammoth game with Wheeling Central, was a cardinal mistake.
With time waning in the third quarter, Wheeling Central's Chase Harler found himself alone on the far baseline.
The sophomore calmly drained a long 3-pointer, giving his team a 58-46 lead heading into the final quarter.
Photo by DAVE MORRISON
Magnolia’s Spencer Campbell looks to pass around the defense of Wheeling
Central’s Chase Harler on Thursday night.
The deficit proved to be too much to dig out of, as the Class A No. 4 Maroon Knights held off No. 3 Magnolia 70-63 in the final game of Thursday's New Martinsville Rotary Challenge.
"You would think that by now we would know the names (David) Park and Harler," Tallman said. "I don't know how, especially coming out of a timeout, but we lost him. It's inexcusable really."
The loss ended an eight-game winning streak by the Blue Eagles (8-4), who hadn't lost since falling to Martin Luther King Jr., 91-81, in triple overtime at a tournament in Marietta on Dec. 21.
The victory was the fifth in a row for Wheeling Central (13-3), which avenged an 82-71 loss to Magnolia last month.
Harler, who finished with 29 points, including 11 in the third quarter, also was a menace on defense, holding Spencer Campbell to five points. It was Campbell, who had gotten Magnolia off to a quick start in the first meeting between the two teams.
"We made a few adjustments, and one of those was putting Harler on Campbell," Wheeling Central coach Mel Stephens said. "We decided we would leave C.J. (Burch) and Thomas (Stanley) and some of the others on (Preston) Boswell. He definitely got his points, but we felt we'd take the push between Chase and Boswell and let the other guys decide it."
The plan worked.
Boswell had a huge game, with 32 points. Other than Zach Willhoite, who had 14 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, nobody scored in double figures for the Blue Eagles.
Only five players scored for Wheeling Central, led by Harler. David Park had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Alonzo Manns had 12 points and seven rebounds and Boyd Bibey, who was starting in place of Joey John, who missed the game with an illness, added 10.
"This is a huge win for us," Stephens said. "Not only is it going to help us in the sectional seeding, but it is going to help us in late-game situations. We didn't play especially well early on and we had some trouble in the fourth quarter holding onto the ball."
Magnolia did make a run, starting the fourth on a 7-0 tear with Willhoite and Campbell netting baskets around a Willhoite three-point play,
Wheeling Central got the led back up to eight, but a Boswell three-point play and a pair of free throws by Chase Miller made it 63-60 with 2:33 left.
Harler had a three-point play on the the other end but Campbell answered with a 3-pointer to leave the deficit at three, 66-63 with 1:24 remaining.
That's when Central's defense went to work.
Park rebounded a contested 3 by Campbell and got the ball to Harler who made two free throws. Harler then partially blocked a 3 by Boswell and Manns finished the scoring with a pair of free throws.
"We never want to lose and we battled our rear ends off in the fourth quarter to get back into the game," Tallman said. "Last year we beat them three times in the regular season. It's a tough loss but when you look at the big picture, to beat a team as good as Wheeling Central three times with the kind of team they have, it's a tall order. We had a couple spells where we didn't look good at all. We didn't play Magnolia basketball. Down the road though, this may end up being a blessing in disguise."
Stephens chalked it up to defense.
"We played very well on defense, and that was the difference in the game," he said. "They did have 32 points at the half (Magnolia led 32-31) but the first time they had 49 at the half. There's a 17-point difference right there."
Bishop Donahue 67, Tyler Consolidated 51
NEW MARTINSVILLE - Bryce Jones scored 18 points and the Bishops twice held off Tyler Consolidated and went on to a victory.
The Bishops jumped out to an early lead but behind freshman Jace Reed's eight first-quarter point, the Knights fought back to within two early.
Again the Bishops went on a run, but a 10-0 run that spanned parts of the second and third quarter pulled Tyler within three, before Chaice Truex heated up to help Bishop pull away.
Truex, who had eight in the third quarter, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Josh Miller added 13 and freshman Tyler Straughn had 10 for Bishop Donahue.
Reed had 15 to lead the Knights while Kordell Stewart had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Paden City 52, River 48
NEW MARTINSVILLE - Three players scored in double figures and Paden City benefited from a timely steal and just enough free throws to earn a victory.
Freshman Hayden Hizer had a key steal late and it led to a Luke Cooper basket to make it a two-possession game at 51-46.
River had a couple of chances but misfired on shots which Zach Heasley pulled down. Hizer and Kennedy Cain then closed out the game with a free throw each.
Cain led the Wildcats with 14 points. Cooper had 13 and Craig Allen 11.
Ryan Indermuhle had 16 points to lead River and Parker Coretti added 10.