Magnolia falls to Trinity, 65-57, despite Mady Winters’ monster performance

Photo by Josh Strope Magnolia's Mady Winters (40) goes up for a basket as she is defended by Trinity's Rachel Rosen during a W.Va. Class A quarterfinal Wednesday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. Winters had a school-record 45 points and added 12 rebounds, but the Blue Eagles lost to the Warriors, 65-57.

CHARLESTON — With two of the biggest players in the state on the court, it turned out to be one of the shortest that made the biggest difference.

Trinity’s 5-foot-4 sparkplug Reagan Sharp was stellar with 40 points – 16 in the fourth quarter and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line – to spoil a record day for Magnolia and send the Blue Eagles home early for the second season in a row with a 65-57 victory in the opening game of the Class A state tournament.

“It was just one of those games where things didn’t fall for us, shots didn’t fall,” Magnolia coach Meredith Pilant said. “We had a decent amount of turnovers in the first half that were costly. We let them have too many second-chance points. They exposed us a little bit on some areas. They pressured us and at times we weren’t able to handle that pressure.”

Magnolia’s Mady Winters had it all going for the Blue Eagles, setting a single-game school record with 45 points, breaking a mark held by former standout Mallory Chapman (43). She also eclipsed 1,000 points for her career as just a sophomore, needing five coming in to reach the milestone.

She was 20 of 23 (86.9 percent), just shy of setting the mark for shooting percentage in a single Class A tournament game (90.9 percent, set by Madonna’s Temica Cureton in 1986).

She also brought down 12 rebounds.

But as stellar of a day as it was for Winters, she acknowledged it meant little without a victory.

“It is exciting, but losing the game hurts worse,” Winters said. “None of it really matters because of the loss.”

Magnolia (17-9) came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed and had already pocketed a victory against Trinity (18-8) earlier in the season.

Trinity took the lead at 10-8 in the first quarter on a 3 by Paige Dixon and never trailed the rest of the way.

The Warriors built the lead to as big as 12 and used a pressure defense to force Magnolia into 24 turnovers with 31 points coming from that.

“That is the difference right there,” Pilant said. “When a team scores that many points off turnovers, it is hard to stay in a ballgame.”

With four minutes to go, Trinity led by nine at 53-44 and Magnolia was in big trouble.

But Winters answered with three straight baskets to cut the deficit to one possession and breathe life back in the Blue Eagles.

Then it became “The Reagan Sharp Show.” The senior scored her team’s last 10 points and had a game-high 10 steals.

After an and-1 by Kyndra Pilant brought Magnolia to within 55-53 with 1:57 remaining, Sharp took over.

She tried dribbling out the clock, forcing Magnolia to foul her, despite being in the double bonus.

She made both.

On the ensuing inbounds play, she intercepted a pass along the baseline and scored to make it 59-53.

She continued to have the ball in her hands and went 6 of 8 from the free-throw line down the stretch to send the Warriors in a semifinal showdown Friday with Parkersburg Catholic, a 70-54 winner against Summers County.

Trinity also outscored Magnolia, 21-0, from 3-point range. The Warriors went 7 of 18, while the Blue Eagles came up short on all seven attempts.

Winters was the lone player in double figures for the Blue Eagles. Kyndra Pilant had 15 rebounds.