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Post Play Powers Eagles

December 26, 2018

NEW MARTINSVILLE - Magnolia girls' basketball coach Meredith Pilant has been wondering when her two standout inside players - junior Kyndra Pilant and sophomore Mady Winters - were going to put solid games together at the time.

On Dec. 18 she got her answer, and it could not have come at a better time with defending West Virginia Class A state champion Wheeling Central paying a visit.

Winters and Kyndra Pilant dominated on both sides of court, combining for 51 points and 45 rebounds, and the Blue Eagles survived 26 turnovers against the undermanned and foul-prone Maroon Knights to record a prized 57-50 victory at Magnolia High School.

Article Photos

Photo by Josh Strope
Magnolia’s Kyndra Pilant looks to split the defense of a pair of Wheeling Central defenders during their recent meeting.

"There is no question that our inside game is our biggest strength," Meredith Pilant said. "And while those two girls have taken turns having big games it has been one on and one a little off before (Dec. 18) but they really worked well together in this one.

"But both of them really came to play and I can't say enough about how Mady took over the game when Kyndra got into foul trouble in the third quarter."

With Wheeling Central (4-4) missing standout guard Hannah White following a severe knee injury Saturday, the Knights struggled shooting the ball and played for much of the contest with Kaylee Reinbeau and Eden Gainer battling foul problems.

Central's only lead of the contest came on a Reinbeau hoop at 2:37 of the first quarter, just before back-to-back baskets from Winters and Kyndra Pilant gave the hosts a 10-8 lead after one. Winters quickly hit two more baskets and Kyndra Pilant closed a 10-0 spurt for a 16-8 reading early in the second.

A pair of Gainer baskets cut the deficit to four before a 7-0 Magnolia (5-1) run pushed it to 23-12 and was capped by a Lara Ann Smith basket at 2:12 that made it 23-12. The Knights closed on a 9-2 spurt, including a Gainer 3-pointer at the horn, to make it 25-21 at the break.

Coach Penn Kurtz's Maroon Knights got as close as 25-24 to open the third and were still within 29-27 at 4:37 when Kyndra Pilant went to the bench with her fourth foul. But with the junior watching Winters closed the frame with eight points and four rebounds down the stretch as Big Blue took a 38-35 lead to the fourth.

The Maroon Knights twice trimmed the margin down to two points, including at 52-50 on consecutive steals and baskets by Gainer and Marissa Horan, with 1:15 to play.

Reinbeau had already fouled out at the 2:11 mark and Magnolia scored the final five points of the contest before beginning its celebration.

"Our biggest problem is turnovers, and we are averaging 20-plus a game and helping teams stay in the game," Meredith Pilant said. "But our guards are getting stronger and smarter and I believe it is coming along.

"This is a very big win for us and I couldn't be prouder of the girls. I also can't say enough about the job Lenieca Grimm did on Gainer. I know she scored some points, but she did a very nice job on her defensively."

Both big girls finished with double-doubles with Winters taking game scoring honors with 35 points while adding 16 rebounds and Pilant scoring 16 while breaking her own school record for rebounds in a game with an impressive 29. The duo combined for 22 of the team's 25 field goals, 38 of their 53 shots and 45 of their 58 rebounds.

Gainer fought off foul trouble and a tough shooting night to finish with a team-high 21 points while Reinbeau and Horan both finished with eight.

The Blue Eagles had a huge rebounding edge of 58-26 but turned the ball over 26 times to just 12 for their guests. Central, however, was just 20-of-67 from the floor for just under 30 percent while Magnolia dominated the paint and was just under 50 percent from the floor.

"As far as the foul problems go this game was not much different than any other we have played this year," Kurtz said. "I keep telling them that we have to work on it but we are still trying to figure it out.

"Shooting was also an issue, but we still have to find a way to defend. We can't keep giving up 55 to 60 points. There is just a lot of work to do.

"They have two girls inside that are very good and very hard to defend and we are in a situation where we need to figure out a way to try and fill the void that we have with Hannah out."



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