Magnolia Defense Stifles Paden City in Girls Basketball

Blue Eagles hold Wildcats to seven points in second half

Photos by Kyle Lutz Magnolia’s Lenieca Grimm (15) drives for a loose ball as Paden City’s Paige Leonard, left, and Abbe Stackpole defend.

PADEN CITY — When one team doesn’t have the highest scoring offense, it mostly will rely on its defense to rack up victories. For coach Meredith Pilant and the Magnolia girls’ basketball team, that has been the case this year.

Monday against Paden City was no exception as the Blue Eagles held the Wildcats to seven points in the second half in a 47-32 victory at Paden City High School.

“We’ve been priding ourselves on defense,” Pilant said. “We’re not the most high-powered offense. We pride ourselves on beating them on the boards, beating them on defense. Hustle plays. That’s where we get our wins. When we are not doing that, we find ourselves on the other end of the battle. Overall, first half we weren’t happy with them. They weren’t moving their feet, they weren’t playing defense and boxing out. We came in, told them what they needed to do in the second half and they performed.”

The victory didn’t come easy for Magnolia as it saw itself in an eight-point hole. Paden City’s Hannah Loy capped a small 6-0 spurt with a 3-pointer to make it 23-15 in favor of Paden City with 5:10 left in the second quarter. That’s where Pilant called a timeout.

“They weren’t playing to our standard,” Pilant said. “We told them that they were rushing their shots, take their time, work the ball around and get the easy basket. And they followed through and listened. We were pleased with that.”

Photo by Kyle Lutz Magnolia's Logan Riggs (21) moves the ball up the floor.

The Blue Eagles got the message as they came out of the huddle to go on a 11-0 run. Kennedy Parsons netted a 3-pointer to start it followed by a Mady Winters bucket 20 seconds later.

With 1:33 left, another Winters bucket made it 26-23 in favor of the Blue Eagles to cap the spurt. Paige Leonard ended the dry spell for Paden City as she hit two free throws with just more than a second left to play in the half to get her team within one, 26-25. That’s as close a the Wildcats got.

Magnolia also forced 15 turnovers and scored 10 of the first 12 points of the third quarter.

“They stepped it up and pressured us and we can’t handle pressure that well yet,” Paden City coach Alan Miller said. “But we’re learning. We’re getting better. That’s the best first half we probably played all year. We made some shots which makes everybody better. Than in the second half, we probably had less than 10 shots. But we’re getting better.”

The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Blue Eagles scored the first eight points to take a commanding 44-29 lead.

Winters and Kyndra Pilant both used their size to their advantage as they tallied double-doubles for Magnolia. Winters had a team-high 20 points while grabbing 11 rebounds. Kyndra Pilant was solid with 12 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

“We keep telling them, ‘Work the inside game and the outside game will open up,'” Meredith Pilant said. “That’s kind of been our strategy all year. We saw it work again for us (Monday). We keep telling our girls outside, ‘You shoot the ball, we got two girls inside. They’ll get the rebound.’ Some of the times, that’s our best offense.”

Loy led the way for Paden City with a game-high 21 points.