CHARLESTON - Magnolia's move from Class AA to Class A at the start of the 2012-13 school year was expected by some to be quickly accompanied by dominance in boys' major sports.
Those expectations were fueled not only by the school's history of success in Class AA, but also the personnel on its current basketball, football and baseball teams.
Through two seasons among the division including the state's smallest schools, Magnolia has yet to win a state championship. It does, however, have two All-State captains to its credit.
Winters will continue his stellar basketball career at Wheeling Jesuit University.
The West Virginia Sports Writers Association named Blue Eagle senior forward Mark Winters captain of the Class A All-State boys basketball team. Winters averaged 29 points and 12 rebounds and became the 19th player in Mountain State prep basketball history to surpass the 2,000-point career scoring mark, leading Magnolia to a 21-5 record and a state tournament berth.
He said the school's first season in Class A was an eye-opener.
"I was kind of bummed about dropping to single-A, but I've realized there's a lot of good players in it," Winters said. "Brewer, Newsome, George, to name a few.
"It's a great honor to be named captain."
Winters knows his competition well. Unbeknownst to him, he named three other All-State selections in relating his list of quality small-school players.
The Tug Valley guard duo of Austin Brewer and Mikey Newsome led the Panthers - who also dropped to Class A this season - to their second consecutive state championship. Tug won the Class AA title in 2012.
Both seniors, Newsome led the Panthers in scoring, at 18.4 points per game while Brewer ran the point and did more than a little of everything for the club.
Brewer averaged 15.1 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists per game for coach Garland "Rabbit" Thompson's team, which finished the season with a 25-3 record.
Charleston Catholic 6-4 junior forward Nick George (15.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) was a second-team selection a year ago, and led the Irish to the Class A title game. In three seasons as a starter, George has played in nine state tournament games, and helped the Irish win the state championship in 2012.
Of the four remaining first-team picks, two reached the state tournament. Buffalo 6-2 senior forward Levi Jordan led the Bison to a 21-5 record and their first tournament appearance since 2008. Of
Buffalo's five losses, four came to Charleston Catholic. Greater Beckley Christian also reached the state tournament, and 6-1 Crusader senior Keith Mullins (19.1 ppg) landed a spot on the All-State team.
Parkersburg Catholic 5-10 junior guard Jake Ullman averaged 22.3 points per game and made the first-team list, as did Trinity senior Cody Triplett. A key figure on the Warriors team that reached the 2011 state title game, Triplett's final season saw him average 21.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Triplett was the only repeat selection from the 2012 All-State team.
Magnolia was stunned by rival Wheeling Central in the first round of the state tournament after it had beaten the Maroon Knights three times in as many previous meetings this season. Winters said that while he was disappointed in his showing in Charleston, he has moved forward from the loss.
"I'm still disappointed in our performance at the tourney, but this kinda lightens the mood a bit," Winters said. "It's nice to get all these honors, but I can't settle on them because it's not the end for me. I have four more years at (Wheeling) Jesuit and I've already started working towards that."
Notre Dame 6-4 junior Cal Cistaro, who averaged 19.1 points and 11 rebounds, was named captain of the second team while Wheeling Central 6-4 junior David Park was the third-team captain. Park averaged 16.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.