NEW MARTINSVILLE - Wins don't always have to be pretty. Even in girls basketball.
''For some reason we never win pretty,'' Magnolia coach Mark Blair said after the Blue Eagles 47-44 victory against Madonna in a West Virginia Class A Region One, Section One semifinal on Tuesday night.
''It's always ugly.''
Magnolia’s Grace Barisford, left, and Madonna’s Monica Bragg struggle to gain possession.
The game was just that after Madonna took an 8-4 lead after the first quarter.
''We couldn't shoot the ball,'' Blair said. ''The one thing is our girls never gave up. I told them just keep plugging away and keep working. Those shots have got to fall sometime.''
Those shots, however, still weren't falling to begin the second as the Blue Dons (11-12) used a 10-3 run in the middle of the quarter to build a 21-12 lead.
Then the ball decided to fall through the net for the Blue Eagles.
A Cierra Fowler layup followed by a 3-pointer from freshman Grace Berisford cut Madonna's advantage to four at 21-17 as the tide began to turn with the teams heading into halftime.
The waves really began to crash down on the Blue Dons in the third as Berisford opened the quarter with a jumper followed by a conventional 3-point play by Mallory Chapman that gave Magnolia (11-11) its first lead of the night - a lead the team would never relinquish.
''The beginning of third quarter is what really hurt us,'' Madonna coach Don Ogden said. ''We went a little bit cold. We were real hot in the second quarter once we got accumulated to the gym, the crowd and the student section. The student section was great. (Blair) did a good job with some defensive adjustments.''
The Blue Eagles stretched their lead to eight at 32-24, but Madonna closed out the quarter with six straight points from Monica Bragg, who finished tied for a game-high 17 points, to trim the deficit to 32-30.
However, Chapman and Kiera Standiford closed out the game for Magnolia as the duo combined for all 15 of the Blue Eagles' fourth-quarter points.
Chapman ended her night with 14 points despite not hitting a shot in the first half.
''Mallory had a bad first half,'' Blair said. ''We kept talking to her, trying to get her focused. I knew she was going to score, it was just a matter of time. Mallory is a great kid, she just got a little down on herself. I think that was some of her problem, but once she got into it, she started knocking down her shots.''
Standiford added eight to Magnolia's total, while Berisford cashed in on five 3-pointers on the way to 17 points.
Nicolette Sellitti backed Bragg with 13 points as the two combined for five treys of their own.
The Blue Dons would finish with more 3s (eight) than 2s (seven).
''We like the 3,'' Ogden said. ''We're capable of shooting the 3. During pregame, we pretty much told our 3-point shooters, if you got it, take it. I have total confidence in those girls to take that shot. For the most part we made a lot of them and that is why we were in the game to begin with.''
With the victory, Magnolia will move on in the sectional tournament and will face Wheeling Central on Friday at Brooke High School.
''We have an uphill battle now,'' Blair said. ''We have to face Wheeling Central and they're really good. We have our work cut out for us.''