PADEN CITY - Just a few short weeks ago Paden City coach Fred King watched his team travel to New Martinsville and shoot nearly 70 percent from the field in gaining a huge victory against county rival Magnolia.
King and his Wildcats were looking for more of the same Friday night, however, due in large part to a fine defensive effort from the Blue Eagles, good looks were few and far apart and the shots were not finding the hole.
Sophomore Preston Boswell gunned in a game-high 32 points and Magnolia helped limit Paden City to a 34-percent showing from the floor as it made the short trip south and recorded a 63-45, revenge victory in the Bob Burton Gym at Paden City High School.
Coach Dave Tallman's team improved to 13-6 while the Wildcats dropped to 11-8. Both teams have interesting games today with Magnolia traveling to McMechen to face a Bishop Donahue team that just defeated it on Monday.
Meanwhile, King's squad will look to wrap up a WVHIT championship when it makes the long trip to Meadow Bridge High School to take on Midland Trail.
"This is a nice win for us and a real good night for me," Tallman, a Paden City graduate, said. "I have a lot of memories here and getting a win is another. It was also nice to get to talk to Coach (Bob) Burton, who was here."
With junior sharp-shooter Spencer Campbell missing the contest due to disciplinary reasons, the Eagles still jumped out to an early 8-1 lead with senior Zach Willhoite knocking down three inside shots and Boswell adding another.
The Cats, behind sophomore Luke Cooper's eight first-quarter points, pulled to within 15-14 after one, and were still down 20-19 when the Blue Eagles used an 11-0 run to extend the margin to 31-19. Boswell's buzzer-beating putback made it a 33-24 count at the break.
But the hosts were never able to get to within eight points as the Blue Eagles began pulling away midway through the fourth quarter.
"We know teams are shooting better at the end of the season and we went man-to-man the entire game and beat Buffalo on Wednesday and wanted to do more of that (here)," Tallman added. "I think our depth played a part in this. With Zach (Willhoite) in foul trouble, there were times when we had five sophomores on the court together.
"Kyle Ritz is our enforcer and can get some big rebounds if we can keep him out of foul trouble, and Dylan Anderson and Eric Smith gave us some big minutes and made crucial plays off the bench.
"And Preston Boswell can just do so much for us. He had another big night, the only real thing he needs to work on is playing like we are ahead when we are not, which he does at times.
"But give Paden City a lot of credit, they are a good team and a scary team. Now it is time to put this one behind us and get ready for another big road game at Bishop Donahue."
Willhoite finished with 12 points, playing most of the game in foul trouble after picking up his second late in the opening quarter.
Junior Kennedy Cain has a team-high 15 points while struggling from the floor and fouling out with 2:53 to play, while Cooper added 14 and freshman Hayden Hizer chipped in with nine. Junior Zach Heasley, who had a huge game at Magnolia, was held to one field goal and three points.
"They came out and hit four of their first five shots and we knew we had a little bit of trouble," King said. "We were down 10 at their place and started making shots, but their defense took away our sweet spots and the shots just weren't falling this time.
"Kennedy and Zach just were not getting good looks and we missed some shots and didn't convert at the foul line in the first quarter when we could have stayed in the game.
"Magnolia just never let us get comfortable. I don't believe it had anything to do with us playing bad, I think they just put us in a position to expose some things and they made it work.
"But there really is so much more to this game, win or lose. I think these kids got a lot out of it. Sure, we could have brought someone in and had a blowout win, but I want to play games like this, they help a team so much more."