NEW MARTINSVILLE - Winner of six of its previous seven games, including a huge victory at city-rival Linsly just 24 hours earlier, Wheeling Central ran into a Big Blue brick wall Saturday night in Wetzel County.
Mark Winters and Zach Wilhoite dominated the paint scoring 25 points apiece, and senior sharp-shooter Stephen Rogalski lit it up from the outside with five 3-pointers and 19 points as Magnolia overcame a sluggish initial few minutes to pour it on later and record an 82-66 victory against the Maroon Knights in the final game of the New Martinsville Rotary Classic at Magnolia High School.
''I am real happy about this one,'' a smiling Dave Tallman said afterward. ''It's nice to be back on the winning side and this is a huge win as far as sectional seeding and OVAC points go.''
While the Blue Eagles (10-4) were celebrating in the end, senior David Park was rolling early, helping Central to a 9-4 lead. However, Winters managed to hit four field goals in the final three minutes as Magnolia used a 15-5 spurt to take a 21-18 lead after one.
Park and Winters each scored 10 points in the first quarter, the biggest difference being the Maroon Knights senior did not hit the scoring column again until the fourth period.
The Blue Eagles continued their run early in the second pushing the count to 33-22 at one point, but Central managed to get a timeout, settled down and with freshman Chase Harler scoring 11 in the quarter, was within 40-34 at the break.
But the second half belonged to Wilhoite, who tallied 19, and Magnolia, which led 58-50 after three before closing on a 24-16 fourth-quarter run. Wilhoite scored eight in the third and 11 in the fourth, including a 7 of 8 showing at the line. Winters also capped his night with nine in the final eight minutes.
Rogalski's 19 came in the first three quarters, before he fouled out early in the third.
''Wheeling Central is a heck of a basketball team, but I am so proud of the fact that we played our smartest game of the year,'' Tallman added. ''Mark Winters was Mark Winters, Stephen Rogalski was Stephen Rogalski and Zach Wilhoite played the way we have expected him to play all season long.
''Zach is a very talented kid, and if he comes with that kind of work ethic every day he could be incredible. I think was also learned a lot about ourselves and how valuable Stephen is to us when he was injured. It is great to have him back, our starting five has such a great chemistry. But we have to continue to build our bench.''
For Central, Harler continued his impressive freshman campaign, sharing game scoring honors with Winters and Wilhoite at 25. Park added 15 for Central while Michael Pleva had 10 off the bench. Magnolia also got to showcase its own freshman a little with Preston Boswell the fourth Blue Eagle in double figures with 13.
''Their size was just too much for us,'' Stephens said. ''They contested every shot we took, which led to us not having a very good shot selection. Winters and Wilhoite hurt us on both ends, and when you try to stop them inside, Rogalski gets you from beyond the arc.
''But I will give the kids a little slack after playing at Linsly on Friday. The only thing I don't like is I told the kids coming into the season that our three most important games were against Bishop Donahue in the Undos and the two with Magnolia. We just fell flat (Saturday) and that is a little bit of a letdown.''
Tyler Consolidated 68, Weirton Madonna 65
The middle game may have been the most entertaining with Tyler Consolidated and Madonna both making runs and blowing leads before the Silver Knights pulled it off in the end.
Junior Dylan Romine dumped in a game-high 22 points, the biggest on an off-balance hoop and free throw with eight seconds remaining that provided the winning points. Madonna was able to get off a contested look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer that was off the mark.
Scott Sole tallied 13 for the winners while Darren Heintzman finished with 12. James Carnes paced the Blue Dons with 15, Tyler Ewusiak had 13 and Nick Mazur added 11. Madonna (4-9) grabbed a 40-22 edge off the glass but turned the ball over 23 times, eight more than the Knights.
Williamstown 75, Bishop Donahue 62
The biggest shocker of the afternoon came in the day's opener when the Yellowjackets (4-9) snapped a nine-game losing streak with a victory against the Bishops (10-4).
Coach Tom West's Donahue squad led 17-16 after one before things started unraveling quickly. Trailing 24-21 midway through the second, Williamstown put together an 11-0 run to go up 32-24 and was never behind again. The 'Jackets led 38-28 at the break and 57-47 after three.
Donahue could get no closer than nine in the fourth frame and trailed by as many as 16.
Josh DeBolt tallied 19 for Williamstown while Hunter Neely had 18 and Jarric Hoskins finished with 14 and Landon Travis 12. Bryce Jones and Jesse Padlow had 14 each in a losing effort. Josh Miller did provide a game-high 16 rebounds for Donahue.
The third game of the afternoon, Morgantown Trinity and Paden City, had to be cancelled due to poor road conditions in Morgantown.