Winters cozy for Magnolia

Magnolia head boys basketball coach Dave Tallman’s Blue Eagles last won a state basketball title in 2003 in Class AA when Oak Hill was turned back in the title tilt, 61-48.

Tonight in New Martinsville, the now Class A Blue Eagles will attempt to punch their ticket to the big show in Charleston next week by eliminating Clay-Battelle from the postseason.

Not quite three weeks ago the Blue Eagles, who will carry an 11-game winning streak and a 20-4 mark into today’s 7 p.m. tip, handled the Cee Bees, 81-71.

Of course, the game wasn’t nearly as close as the final scored indicated, but that could turn out to be a potential problem for the Blue Eagles.

Although Magnolia had the game well in hand in the fourth quarter, the Cee Bees caught fire in the last stanza and turned what was a big blowout loss into what appears on paper as a respectable road defeat to Magnolia.

“I told my team they are dangerous because of the way they can shoot the basketball,” Tallman said. “They can shoot it from anywhere.

“If we catch them on an off night shooting, we will be fine, but if they are on that night…”

Obviously, that’s just one of the things which makes the month of March such a magical time of the year. The chance to win a conference tournament, a sectional crown or be one of the final eight teams still left alive playing for a state title in your classification during the final week of the season.

With that being said, most everyone associated with the Magnolia basketball program felt they had a great shot going into the season of advancing to Charleston and perhaps winning a state crown.

One of the main reasons behind the Blue Eagles’ success on the hardwood has been a senior class led by Mark Winters.

All Winters, a Wheeling Jesuit recruit, has done this season is dominate on a nightly basis. Heading into last week’s sectional final versus Wheeling Central the senior needed nine points to reach 2,000 for his career. Tonight, all he needs is 11 points to tie and a dozen to break Ted Talkington’s career scoring mark at Magnolia of 2,024.

“The thing about Mark, he could’ve waited on a Division I offer, but he loves to play,” said Tallman, who watched Winters become the 20th player in Mountain State history to score 2,000 points. “I don’t think he’d be happy going somewhere and sitting.

“Mark always loved to play the game of basketball. I think he will make an immediate impact on the Wheeling Jesuit team.”

When Winters surpassed the 2,000 plateau last Friday, he and Talkington became only the second set of players from the same school – Harman being the other program – to achieve such a feat.

Now, the only questions which remain are can Magnolia get a win tonight and then snap a three-year losing skid at the state tournament where the Blue Eagles have been bounced in the first round each time?

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com