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From My View: Defense Gets It Done

February 28, 2018
BY BRUCE CRAWFORD - Staff Writer ( , Wetzel Chronicle

It has been said you win championships with defense, and this past week the Magnolia Blue Eagles girls basketball team did just that. The Eagles limited a very good Ritchie team to only 10 points in the second half of their sectional championship game.

How did they do it? It was easy on paper, but not so easy on the floor. Yes the Magnolia girls team has two girls pushing six foot or better, but when you put in all the foul trouble they were in, others had to help inside the perimeter.

Where did it come from, you may ask - hard work and dedication by not only the starters, but the girls that come in and give everything they got to help keep the well-oiled Blue Eagles defensive machine clicking on all cylinders.

If you look only one Magnolia starter seen much action last season on varsity playing time on varsity ball, and that was Kyndra Pilant. She is what holds the girls in place, but so is Logan Riggs. She played a great deal last season, but was never the one handling the point guard duties. She has worked her tail off to be able to lead these young players, and with only a win away from going to Charleston, I'm sure she will be full of energy and excitement nto watch.

Early in the season she was a scorer and did pretty well, but as the season progressed, her points per-game dropped, but she still worked and worked to get the girls where they are today - one game from Charleston, and everybody's dream that plays the game, is going to state.

Her shooting is back, along with Sierra Walker and super sub Lenica Grimm. Grimm was a leader on the volleyball court as the team's new setter, and has worked to get where she is today. Her defense, along with Walker's, has helped keep opposing team's top scorers down a bit. Walker has been burning up the nets as of late, and as well as Grimm when she needs too. They wouldn't be where they are without them. Also, you can look to a few more girls off the bench that has helped when Winters and Pilant gets in trouble, like Lara Ann Smith and Reagan Hale.

How about the name Kennedy Parsons? She has never played the game until this season and has given the Eagle coaches a shot in the arm. She has slowly gotten into the game and is now playing defense and rebounding, something she wasn't doing as often in the early part of the season. She has given the Blue Eagles not only an outside shooter to open the way for Winters and Pilant to score the points they do. She swats the ball away, sometimes with too much aggressive style, but most of the time right on. Her defense along with Riggs, Walker and Grimm has improved each and every game.

Now for Pilant and Winters, my night and day, because they give you everything they have, and more every night and day.

Pilant has set a school record with 28 rebounds, and I believe they both have had more double-doubles that any two players on any team I've seen. They almost always score in double figures, as they are in a system that needs for them to score. Teams may slow one down, but not many can shut them both down.

If you have watched them all season, you can see the two lady ball players have gotten better in their foul shooting. So no more rope-a-dope type fouls any more because they will hurt you.

And just think, they are only a freshman and a sophomore, respectively. Look out teams; you better recruit, and I think some will, but we in the small county, we don't.

To finish, I just want to say its been a privilege to watch these girls grow and get better each and every week, but so have their coaches Meredith Pilant and Mark Winters.

Mark was a hometown boy. He was a scorer, and he knew how to play. He learned a lot in college in basketball and life and has been a very good part of the team, and with girls never the less.

Then there is Meredith, I once covered her when she played. She was a good team player and did what she needed to to for the team, and that has helped her mesh with these fine ladies.

I don't know what is going to happen when they play Cameron, but I can tell you one thing; they will be there in front of their opponents and play hard nose defense as Mark Winters been saying : Defense wins championships and I know they will do their best.

Cameron is one of the better teams I have seen play, so Magnolia will and must play great defense, watch and not get in foul trouble, but if they do the girls on the bench be ready to rock and roll. You're only one win from Charleston so have fun, and hope your Magnolia Maniacs be there for you once again.

Win, lose or draw no matter what transform when the Eagles play Cameron, they already won, in my heart. Go Big Blue!



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