Morrison: Magnolia’s Winters Not Unlike Big Brother

NEW MARTINSVILLE – Mitch Winters is not trying to fill his brother’s sneakers.

His uniform? That is a different story.

Mark Winters, who graduated last spring, is the all-time leading scorer in Blue Eagles history with more than 2,000 points in his career and is playing basketball at Wheeling Jesuit.

Shoes that size are not easily filled.

Mitch, a sophomore, isn’t wearing his brother’s shoes. Those are likely worn out.

He is however, wearing his brothers uniform, including the No. 11. The very same one his brother wore last year.

Instead of running from the shadow, he has embraced it.

“I wanted to take the number out of our mix, not retire it, but take it out of the rotation and not bring it back, the way we did for (fellow 2,000-point scorer) Ted Talkington,” Magnolia coach Dave Tallman said. “But Mitch wanted to wear it. If you know Mitch, things really don’t bother him.”

It hasn’t bothered his play either, which, of late, has grown by leaps and bounds.

The young Winters has done his part during the Blue Eagles’ six-game winning streak, which has seen Magnolia recover from an 0-3 start and jump to No. 6 in the most recent Class A poll.

In a 75-48 victory against Tyler Consolidated on Saturday, Winters had 10 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and six blocked shots.

He is obviously doing Mark’s old uniform justice.

Tallman has seen a lot he has liked from his new No. 11.

“I love putbacks,” the coach said. “He has done a great job of that. At Wheeling Central (an 82-71 victory earlier this month) he had several key putbacks that helped us win that game. Against Tyler, they jumped on us early, going up 7-2, then 9-4, and he had some key putbacks that got us back in that game quick. He had done a great job working that high-low with Zach Wilhoite. He does a lot of good things, sometimes things that go unnoticed.”

That is likely why he didn’t make all-tournament at the Tyler Consolidated. Those honors went to heavy scorers Wilhoite and sophomore standout Preston Boswell.

Winters will get his notice, for more than a uniform, in due time, Tallman said.

“He works hard,” Tallman said. “He has gotten stronger and he has started to play well.”

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Magnolia will take center stage Saturday in the annual New Martinsville Rotary Basketball Challenge when it plays host No. 4 Wheeling Central (6-2) in the tournament’s final game at 8 p.m.

There are several good matchups on the day, beginning at noon when the Bishop Donahue (2-10) girls face Magnolia (8-5).

The rest of the games will be boys’ matchups, including Tyler Consolidated (4-9) vs. Bishop Donahue (7-3) at 2., No. 8 Madonna (7-2) vs. Williamstown (8-3) at 4, and River (2-11) vs. Paden City (6-3) at 6.

“It is a great event, and a great way to show off our gymnasium,” Tallman said. “The Rotary really does a great job with the event, and we feel like it is a first-class tournament in the area with some great teams participating.”

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Paden City is quietly putting up some numbers this season.

None has been bigger than the 24.6 points-per-game average being turned in by junior Kennedy Cain. He also averages 7.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals.

At 6-foot-6, with the ability to play out on the wing, he is a matchup problem.

He recently had a streak of three 30-plus games.

Coach Fred King attributes this raising Cain to offseason work he did at the Elite Sports Center in Parkersburg, which is run by Terry Crislip (the former Parkersburg South coach) and Joe Crislip.

“Kennedy committed himself to getting better and went to Parkersburg twice a week,” King said. “His dad and his grandpa made sure he got there. There were a lot of people down there who worked with him. His approach to the game, his shot, everything about his game improved. He has led us in scoring the last two years but his game has improved dramatically.”

The numbers for Paden City, a team with no seniors, have gotten better overall as well.

Luke Cooper, a 6-4 sophomore post, is averaging 13.3 points and team bests with 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, swing man Zach Heasley, a junior, is averaging 12.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.7 blocked shots and freshman point Hayden Hizer is averaging 6.1 points and 7.0 assists.

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Ryan Reinbeau has meant consistency for Class AAA No. 10 Wheeling Park (7-3) this season.

The team’s leading scorer last season, is averaging 17.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a steal per game for the Patriots.

Coach Michael Jebbia said Reinbeau is starting to figure the game out.

He is not living by the 3 alone. Though he still leads the team in 3s, with 24, he has found other ways of getting points for Park.

“He is figuring out that he doesn’t have to just make 3s to score points,” Jebbia said. “He is running the floor and getting layups. He is getting to the free-throw line. There are plenty of ways he can use his ability and he is doing that. He has been our most consistent player in terms of scoring this year.”

When the duo of Reinbeau and fellow junior Trenton Smith score in tandem, and Phillip Bledsoe (12.6 points and 13.6 rebounds) is doing his thing inside, the Patriots are a dangerous team.

In a victory against Columbus Beechcroft on Saturday (78-39), Smith and Reinbeau were on, combining to shoot 12 of 24 (Reinbeau was 7 of 14, Smith 5 of 10).

“That was really the first time since the Warren (Local, Ohio, a 67-65 victory) game that Trenton and Ryan have both shot well,” Jebbia said. “They are both capable of doing that.”

Add to that Bledsoe’s career-high 20 rebounds, and the result was a convincing Park victory.

Wheeling Park’s top seven players have all reached double figures scoring in a game this season.