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The Press Box For Week of Jan. 6

By Staff | Jan 6, 2016

Several big scorers have emerged on the local basketball scene this year. So far, no one has been able to contain Magnolia’s Preston Boswell. He is averaging nearly 35 points per game and on track to become the all-time leading scorer in the valley.

Magnolia has a very good basketball team and they play a tough schedule. The Eagles got their first loss a week ago to Wheeling Central by 12 in the championship of the Undo’s tournament, 71-59, and their second in a row, 87-78, at Morgantown Trinity – a good 7-0 team. Boswell finished the Trinity game with 50 points on 18 field goals and 13-14 from the line.

Coach Dave Tallman has a good team and Boswell, its senior leader, is not a one-man show. He likes to get everyone involved in the game. The Eagles are the defending state champs and are playing at a level that could bring them a repeat, but as evidenced it won’t be easy.

There are plenty of good teams out there that are capable of bringing home the bacon. I believe in taking it one game at a time with the hopes of not having a letdown. I felt a little bad for Tyler last week while attending its game with the Blue Eagles.

I heard some comments.

One was a downgrade of Tyler’s Silver Knights, a couple others said the Eagles were unbeatable. Another said coach Tallman should let Boswell play the whole game and get his 40 or 50. I heard another say let them score a 100.

That’s normally just the way it is in high school sports, nothing to get upset about. Each school has its fans and they are proud of their team. However, overconfidence most of the time will lead to defeat somewhere down the line. None of this came from Magnolia’s coaching staff. They actually played their subs and didn’t try to take advantage of the situation. Most of those comments came from people who never played sports.

The Knights were gracious in defeat, however, and Coach Bob Jones made no excuses. He said they would go back to work and try to get better. Tyler is not a bad team, they are young and inexperienced and have been playing without their leading scorer, Jace Reed. Would he have changed the outcome of the game? No I don’t think so, but he would have made a difference.

Against Tyler, Magnolia went to its bench early but the Knights were playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores the whole game. Sometimes it is better just to enjoy the game, be a good sport and win lose or draw there will always be another day. Cutting down the opposition is bad sportsmanship and an embarrassment to the whole town. That’s what leads to Karma.

I like watching a good basketball game and Magnolia’s run in the state tournament last year was classic – two hard-fought battles that somehow came out in their favor. I was proud to see them win those nail-biters, proud of the play of the whole team and extremely proud of coach Tallman and his staff. Most Blue Eeagle fans are that way, however, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.

The Knights will get better and in a couple years and Coach Jones will have a force to be reckoned with. Jones is a class act who treats his kids with respect and handles himself professionally on and off the court. Don’t get down on the Knights, there is still a long season ahead. I have watched a lot of high school basketball over the years and if Tyler’s freshman guard Griffin Phillips can develop a jump shot he will be one of the best around.

I have known Magnolia’s coach Dave Tallman nearly all my life. Dave is a good basketball coach who knows the game. He gets the most out of all his kids. Dave was also a darn good player who played on Paden City’s 1973 state championship team. He knows what it takes to win, winning is fun and coach Tallman knows that. He has a good staff with Bob Ripley and Mark Blair – they all know the game. Blair has been around basketball most all his life and last year was head coach of the high school girls team.

A couple years ago Magnolia and Tyler had the numbers to drop down from Class AA to Class A. It was a good move on both schools part but what they found out was the competition is just as tough if not tougher. With the move they jumped into a class made up of Catholic schools who year after year pull from the surrounding areas in an unfair advantage to enhance their athletic teams. Class A schools have gained a few more big names for next year with the new classification. I can tell you they won’t find it a cake walk!

How good are Magnolia and Wheeling Central and Trinity?

I want to compare them to another great Class A school from the past. One that went 27-0 and won the 1987 Class A title. It was the same year Wheeling Central won the double A championship and Brooke High won the triple A.

Paden City was that small school. Coach Burton was the coach and Troy (Coop) Cooper was their leader. The school may have been small but not in height. Big Mike Harlen stood 6-8, Lance Heasley was 6-7, Cooper was a 6-2 point guard and Mitch Koerber 6 was the off guard. Mike Anderson 6-5 was the other forward. Sparkplug Mike Morris was first off the bench and the smallest player at 5-10.

They went through the tournament winning easily in their first two games and the battle for the title had to go through another undefeated team, the Bramwell Millionaires 26-0.

The rest is history.

Little or should I say (big) Paden City knocked Bramwell from the ranks of the undefeated and brought it all back to town. If I were to bet between that team and this year’s teams my money would go towards Paden City. That team was the best Class A squad I have ever witnessed, bar none. The difference would be Paden City had great outside shooting (no three point line) and it could score much better down low. That’s where the big guys played, they boxed out, rebounded and made foul shots, blocked shots, plus had fewer turnovers. The big guys didn’t go out and fire up threes they played around the basket. Since 1987 I have not seen a better ball handler in the valley than Troy Cooper, nor a better big man than Mike Harlan in Class A.

Like I said, the season is young and I may be wrong but the road to this year’s state title will not be easy. Paden City plays at Magnolia Friday night and it could be a long night for the Wildcats but they will not go down easy. Coach King will have his team ready but they only go six deep, conditioning and toughness won’t be a problem. The Cats are also quick but foul problems could spell trouble. If Paden City gets hot, it could be hard to beat, but Magnolia is the favorite and should win big, 84-50.

Wheeling Central’s Chase Harler and Boswell look like the top two Class A players here in the valley, but Cameron’s Clutter and Bishop Donahue’s Straughn are both putting up big numbers. Keeping Paden City’s Luke Cooper under 20 has proven to be a chore. He recently scored his 1,000th point despite playing the past three years beside two other 1,000 point scorers in Kennedy Cain and Zach Heasley.

The All-Valley football team came out last week and several area players made the honor roll. Magnolia’s Kyle Ritz earned captain of the first team defense and Valley’s Trey Streets was named a captain of the first-team offense. Paden City’s Luke Cooper was a first-team selection at WR.

From 1953 through 1992, Paden City, Sistersville and Tyler, had 23 players named as captains. Tyler Consolidated’s head football coach Ryan Walton who played on Tyler’s last team before the consolidation, was captain of the 1992 defensive unit as a linebacker. How is that for small schools?