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Calhoun upends Magnolia in Roundball title game

Magnolia’s Pilant sets school’s all-time girls’ scoring record

Photo by Joe Albright Calhoun County’s Savannah Cunningham (3) and Josie Montgomery (10) double team Magnolia’s Kyndra Pilant during the Red Devils’ 43-39 Boggs Roundball Classic championship game win over the Blue Eagles Saturday at Tyler Consolidated High School. Pilant broke the girls’ school scoring record after her 18-point performance, while Montgomery tallied 10 points.

KIDWELL — Calhoun County’s girls voiced concern to head coach Kevin Boak over the height of Magnolia before their matchup Saturday in the Boggs Roundball Classic championship at Tyler Consolidated High School.

Considerable problems in 6-foot forward Kyndra Pilant and 6-foot-6 center Holland Estep presented tall tasks between them and a victory.

Pilant, whose 18 points passed her over Grace Berisford for the all-time girls’ school lead, and Estep did combine for 28 points, but Boak had a plan. It just took a half for it to gain any traction.

“I told the girls we are faster then them and we should just take it to the hoop,” said Boak.

His Red Devils executed this plan in the second half.

Several drives also helped offset the 40-18 rebounding disadvantage they suffered in a surprise 43-39 road win.

As a bonus, Boak witnessed his young ladies adjust to a team they weren’t scheduled to play on the day.

“The girls worked hard and we had to come back from that first half where we were a little shaky, but in the second half they played really well,” said Boak.

Boosted by 14 turnovers created by the defense, the Red Devils erased a 10-point half-time deficit with a scrappy mentality in the final 16 minutes. No play or transition attempt for Magnolia was safe. Calhoun County generated several steals by poking the ball away from behind Blue Eagle players.

A tough press also forced Magnolia to insert an extra ball handler instead of Estep. Her 10 points and five boards proved invaluable to Magnolia’s early lead. Without her, the scoring dried up. Meredith Pilant watched her team score just 14 points in the second half.

“We made mental mistakes and just weren’t playing very hard this afternoon,” said Pilant. “We had a lot of silly turnovers and lack of effort just killed us. We just didn’t bring it today.”

Contrary to the second half, early developments went Magnolia’s way. Calhoun missed its first seven shots and the Blue Eagles led throughout the opening time.

Pilant’s triple and deuce after a slow start set the lead at 5-0. Leneica Grimm’s deuce moments later pushed the advantage to 7-2. Two Josie Montgomery buckets, along with one score each from Savannah Cunningham and Jocelyn Yeager put the visitors down 17-8 after one period.

Estep and Kyndra’s four second-quarter down-low baskets increased the lead by one headed into halftime, 25-15.

Calhoun pressed immediately in the second half to great results. Magnolia didn’t score a point until Pilant’s free throw with 2:13 left in the third period. Kaylin Parsons and Madison Dennis then went to work on the offensive end of the floor. The pair scored every basket during an 8-0 run that cut the lead to 25-23. Joselyn Yeager’s lay-in off a Josie Montgomery assist with 1:17 left then gave Calhoun the lead.

Magnolia grabbed back the advantage on Litton’s triple with seconds left in the period.

Both teams swapped the lead one more time in the fourth period. Cunningham’s corner deuce thanks to a Dennis dime put the Red Devils ahead for the final time with 2:25 remaining. Magnolia only managed a Pilant deuce during the entire sequence. Dennis then hit a triple dagger with 1:38 left for a 37-33 advantage.

Pilant’s record breaking bucket pulled the Eagles within 4, 43-39, but they could pull no closer.

“It is nice to get the record, but it sucks to get it in a loss,” said Pilant after the game. “I will enjoy it when I look back on it, though.”

Doak noted this was a win his group could build on.

“I told the girls this would be a huge win to beat Magnoila and just let them know us from little ole Calhoun. We didn’t know anything about them, but that they are a winning program. And I think it is a huge win,” said Doak.

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