NEW MARTINSVILLE - Just a few hours after being voted the top team in the first West Virginia Class A poll of the season, Magnolia's boys' basketball team showed why it was worthy of the distinction.
Mark Winters powered his way to 30 points and 17 rebounds and Zach Wilhoite added 25 points Monday night as the Blue Eagles led from start to finish in besting Linsly, 83-68.
''We were just stunned the other night against River,'' Magnolia coach Dave Tallman said of his team's first loss of the season Saturday night. ''I was anxious to see how we could bounce back against a very good Linsly team.''
Magnolia’s Zach Wilhoite goes up for two in front of Linsly’s Jibri Blount (23) on Monday night.
Tallman didn't have to wait long to find out.
Magnolia (7-1) jumped out to a 10-2 lead, fueled by a defense that smothered the Cadets' transition game.
The Blue Eagles went to a 2-3 zone that kept Linsly from going inside and forced numerous outside shots, many of which didn't fall.
The Cadets (4-5) were 4 of 13 from the field in the first quarter, while the Blue Eagles became the running team, scoring most of their early baskets in transition.
''It all starts on defense for us,'' Tallman said. ''When we play good defense it really turns into great offense for us.
''And I thought we had better shot selection (than against River). The other night I thought we went a little bit crazy.''
Linsly coach James Wallace agreed the Blue Eagles' defense put his team in a funk.
''It forces you to slow down a bit and we couldn't get out and run as well,'' he said. ''We weren't as aggressive in transition in the first half.''
Magnolia definitely looked like the veteran team, with almost all five players touching the ball at least once in the halfcourt sets. The Blue Eagles only went seven deep until they cleared the bench late.
''We've been pretty much relying on five guys as we develop our bench,'' Tallman said. ''But Garrett (Emch) and Spencer (Campbell) came in and really good minutes.''
Winters was nearly unstoppable during the first 16 minutes, scoring 19 points. And it came on a good night, too, as several college coaches were on hand. His layup was part of an 8-0 run to end the first half, one that ended with the hosts with a commanding 46-25 advantage.
''Magnolia's a veteran team and they knew how to put us away,'' Wallace said.
Linsly came out more aggressive in the second half, but it was too little, too late. Magnolia stretched its lead to 58-31 thanks to a 10-0 run early in the third quarter and was never threatened.
''We were definitely a lot more confident in the second half,'' Wallace said. ''We got back to doing what we do best, which is attacking the basket. We made better decisions and transition and in rebounding the ball.
''I was proud of how this young team came out after halftime and battled.''
Freshman guard Preston Boswell added 11 points for Magnolia.
Jabri Blount paced Linsly with 22 points. Anthony Wallace added 18 points, while Toddy Goodwin-Rowe netted 15.