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Magnolia Captures Sectional Crown

February 27, 2019

NEW MARTINSVILLE - Friday proved to be an unforgettable night for the Magnolia girls' basketball program.

The Blue Eagles soared to their second straight West Virginia Class A Region One, Section Two Championship with a victory over Tyler Consolidated inside the Magnolia Gymnasium.

Magnolia standout Kyndra Pilant added to the historic night by collecting her 1,000th career point in only her junior season.

Article Photos

Photo by Bruce Crawford
The Magnolia Girls Basketball celebrates a sectional championship win.

"This is insane to go back-to-back," Pilant said. "It's just a fun time to play. I didn't know when I was going to get 1,000, but when I hit that shot and heard the crowd, I knew that was it. It's exciting and I'll remember it forever."

Magnolia (16-8) will host Madonna in a regional co-final Thursday, while Tyler Consolidated (14-10) will travel to Wheeling Central.

Pilant and the sharp-shooting Aquera Cabral each led the Eagles with 21 points. Pilant added 14 rebounds to record a double-double, along with sophomore sensation Mady Winters who supplied 15 points and 10 boards.

Cabral was a thorn in the Silver Knights' side all night as the senior drained five 3-pointers.

"For (Cabral) being a senior, we keep telling her 'you don't know how many more games you will have left,'" Magnolia coach Meredith Pilant said. "So for her to come out and hit the shots that she hit is really special.

"She's been hitting big shots all year but she stepped up (Friday) probably bigger than she has all year."

Tyler coach Ben Thomas had a game plan entering the game to slow down Cabral, but the shooting guard was on fire.

"We knew they had a great shooter in Cabral," Thomas said. "Our game plan coming in was to pressure her shot and get her off balance, while taking care of the middle. We did that initially but they fired up those shots, made them and dissolved our game plan."

Things were looking up early for the Silver Knights as they opened up with a 5-0 advantage.

The tides quickly changed as Magnolia finished the first quarter on a 14-5 run, which was part of a 43-12 spurt into the second half.

Cabral paced the Eagles with 13 points in the first half.

Pilant's memorable moment came at the 4:43 mark of the third quarter when she found her footing inside the paint, drained a shot and drew contact for her 1,000th point.

Winters came alive in the third quarter, striking for 11 of her 15 points to lead the charge down the stretch.

Winters and Pilant sparked Magnolia in the paint as the Blue Eagles out-rebounded the Knights 36-19.

"Everybody contributed (Friday)," Coach Pilant said. "We out-rebounded them and worked hard on the boards and on the defensive end.

"We keep telling them 'if you work hard and get stops on defense, the offense will take care of itself.' I think we saw that come into effect (Friday)."

Josey Jones and Lauren Templeton each poured in 13 points to lead Tyler Consolidated and JoLee Walton added nine.

"Give it up to Magnolia," Thomas said of the loss. "They had a great game plan and they pressured us more than I thought they would. I thought we played a great game, too, but it's just hard to beat a team when they shoot that well."

Besides Pilant, Winters and Cabral, Lara Ann Smith, Lenieca Grimm, and Sierra Walker each connected from downtown.

The Blue Eagles, as a team, was 26-47 from the floor, but was only 8-20 from beyond the arc, and 6-17 from the free throw line. Reagan Hale, along with Grimm, Cabral, Smith and Walker hounded the Silver Knights' front court players all game long, while Pilant and Winters controlled the paint, with each rejecting a pair of Tyler shots, and forcing the undersized Tyler team to one and done for the biggest part of the game.

(Bruce Crawford added to the story.)


Magnolia Runs By St. Marys

NEW MARTINSVILLE - Going into sectional play, the Magnolia girls basketball team had not tasted victory since Jan. 28. After dropping five straight to end the regular season, the Blue Eagles took the phrase, 'game of runs' to heart Wednesday night as they accounted for the final eight points in the first quarter and 11 in the third en route to a 57-39 victory over St. Marys during a West Virginia Class A Region One Section Two semifinal.

The Blue Eagles will face off against Tyler Consolidated for the Section Two championship at 7 p.m. Friday at Magnolia High School.

The Silver Knights got the best of Ritchie County, 56-46 in the other semifinal game.

"They came out in the second half ready to play," Magnolia (15-8) coach Meredith Pilant said. "We've been in a little bit of a slump, so they started to turn around. They finally got over the edge (Wednesday) and put it all together. In the second half, once the offense opened up and once they got some defensive stops, they just ran away with it."

Pilant also stated that at the end of the regular season, her squad faced some strong opponents. While Magnolia dropped five straight, Pilant saw a silver lining as they were getting ready for postseason play.

"We went into slumps and we played some good teams," Pilant said. "We played Fort Frye, Parkersburg South and Indian Creek. There were a couple of games where we were hanging in there and I think it helped us grow to get ready for the postseason. So even though we lost, we were getting ready for the postseason and I think it proved (Wednesday) that they are ready to go."

It did take almost half of the first quarter to get things going for the Blue Eagles. After an Addie Furr 3-pointer, St. Marys boasted an 8-2 lead with 4:16 left to go in the opening frame.

That's when Kyndra Pilant and the Blue Eagles went on their first run. Pilant converted on a coventional three-point play that sparked a 13-0 run for the Blue Eagles that transitioned into the second quarter.

Aquera Cabral capped the run with her first 3-pointer of the game to put the score at 15-8.

The Blue Devils (13-11), went on their own run. A small 7-0 spurt tied the game at 15 after a Kylie Wright 3-pointer.

"They got a nice pair of bigs," St. Marys coach Howard Meeks II said. "All their role players have started taking on more responsibility. We had a nice game plan, and what really hurt us wasn't the inside game. The difference in the game was the three long rebounds Magnolia tracked down and scored on every possession."

Those long rebounds came during Magnolia's second second run. Down 29-25 after a 6-0 St. Marys spurt, the Blue Eagles scored the final 11 points of the third quarter with nine coming from Mady Winters.

Winters scored the first bucket of the fourth quarter to conclude the run as the score read 38-29.

"They pride themselves on the defense all year," Meredith Pilant said. "I think, like I said, once they get those stops, then the offense flows off the defense. We're very pleased where we are at, we like where we stand right now and they just have to keep working."

Winters posted a game-high 23 points, while grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. She also made four steals and blocked a shot. Kyndra Pilant netted 11 points, while gabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists. Cabral also scored in double-figures with 10 points. Lara Ann Smith contributed eight points, including two clutch three-pointers, while Reagan Halle buried a very important three-pointer. Audrey Cross scored a two-pointer for all the Magnolia scoring.

For St. Marys, Furr supplied 13 points, and Wright compiled 11 - with three shots coming from behind the arc.

(Magnolia/St. Marys coverage by Kyle Lutz. Bruce Crawford added to the story.)



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