Tyler Consolidated Hangs On to Top Magnolia Boys

Eagles’ rally falls short in 72-66 loss to Silver Knights

Photo by Cody Tomer Tyler Consolidated’s Zack Placer, right, and Magnolia’s Sebastian Stickler, left, go after a loose ball during Thursday night’s rivalry game in New Martinsville.

NEW MARTINSVILLE — Upset-minded Magnolia gave Tyler Consolidated all it could handle Thursday night.

The Blue Eagles (3-7) got within four points late in the game but the Silver Knights (11-4) stayed composed and finished off a 72-66 victory on the road inside Magnolia’s gymnasium.

Tyler Consolidated led by as many as 16 points, 65-49, over midway through the fourth quarter before allowing an 18-5 Magnolia run to cut the score to 70-66 with three seconds to go.

However, Tyler West stepped up and buried a pair of free throws to put the game on ice for the Knights.

“Magnolia came out and played extremely hard,” Tyler coach Steven Nutter said. “I was impressed with (Magnolia coach) Dave Tallman. He really had the boys ready to play.

“We caused a few turnovers late and Mark Rucker was really swinging around on the back side and was able to get some steals and get out in transition. Those transition buckets are what propelled us to the win.”

The Blue Eagles’ late burst was finished off as Jake Gamble was fouled on a 3-point attempt with three seconds showing. The 6-foot-1 junior guard drained the first two shots but the last one was off the mark, keeping it a two-possession game.

Gamble finished with a game-high 23 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter.

“I was really proud of our effort,” Tallman said. “We could have folded but we didn’t. We battled back and I thought that was great.

“We know that we can still improve in a lot of areas and we will continue to work on fundamentals of basketball, but we are bridging the gap really well right now.”

A trio of Knights led the victorious charge as Rucker paved the way with 20 points and Griffin Phillips and Tyler West each contributed 18 points.

“Griffin, Tyler and Mark are the backbone of our team,” Nutter said. “We need all three of them to go. They were all three frustrated (Thursday) because Magnolia did an excellent job of taking them out of the game. Every time they would flash into the high post or run the back side well, they got a body on them and made some of our other guys shoot the ball.”

Magnolia made a statement early with a 21-point first quarter and led 21-11 heading into the second. The Eagles defense was the key, collecting five takeaways over the initial eight minutes of action.

“They really got after it,” Nutter said of Magnolia’s strong first quarter. “They had a good scheme. They took some of our strengths away early and we struggled to get in the game.”

Defense was the story the rest of the way, as well. Only it was the defensive play of Tyler Consolidated that left its mark.

The Silver Knights began the second quarter on a 14-0 spurt to secure a 25-21 upper hand, sparked by tight defensive pressure that forced seven turnovers.

Tyler used a West 3 just before the buzzer to march into the half with a 28-27 edge.

“I was really proud of the way we started,” Tallman said. “I thought our kids played extremely well in the first quarter but why we didn’t score in the first six minutes of the second quarter is beyond me. Maybe it’s our youth, but we have to get out of that.”

A 10-3 start to the second half and a 9-2 run later in the third helped the Knights gather a 48-41 advantage going into the fourth.

The lead continued to grow as Tyler Consolidated forced the Blue Eagles into 18 turnovers in the game before Gamble led his team back into contention.

Silas McKeever tallied 16 and Trevor Williamson racked up all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Blue Eagles. Gage Huffman delivered a strong showing for Tyler Consolidated with nine points.

“Give Tyler credit,” Tallman said. “They hit big shots when it mattered. They played our passing lanes well. They are good athletes and they have a nice team.”

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