ST MARYS -- They say the third time is a charm! It turned out just that way for Magnolia on Feb. 28, in the Region One, Section Two Semifinal basketball game as they came from six down late in the game to edge out the Wildcats and advance to the championship game against St. Marys.
For Paden City, it was an end to a season that saw coach Fred King's young ball club finish at 10-13 with three of the losses coming to the Blue Eagles by a total of nine points.
The Wildcats were looking to knock the Eagles out for the season and started out quickly shutting down the larger Magnolia squad's inside game with tough, back side help defense. The Blue Eagles countered with with a quick jumper by Tyler Williamson to take a 2-0 lead. On the next trip down the floor the Wildcats Aaron Heasley who is second in the state in scoring drilled a three ball to make it 3-2 Paden City.
Photo by Ed Parsons
Looks like Wildcats’ Aaron Heasley has the upper hand in this round against this Blue Eagle during the Sectional matchup last week in St. Marys.
Both teams played tight pressure defense and at the end of one quarter the score was 7-5 Magnolia. The Wildcats came back in the second stanza and out scored the Blue 10-7 for a one point halftime lead.
Trey Slider hit two free throws and senior point guard Hayden Hizer canned a big three in the quarter. Hizer also a free throw with Heasley and Matt Saxon both hitting a pair from the foul line.
Magnolia came out strong to start the second half with Leo Herrick hitting the first five points before the Wildcats Heasley countered with four straight to tie the contest. That's where the tide started turning and the Wildcats out scored the Blue 13-5 to finish the quarter and go a head 32-26 with eight minutes left.
The start of the fourth again belonged to Magnolia as they scored the first five points and get to within one before Slider hit nothing but net on a three from the left corner. Magnolia turned the ball over and Hizer drilled another three giving the visitor's a five point lead with 2:03 left on the clock.
The Blue Eagles then got a bucket from Herrick and with under two minutes to play to draw his team to within three 38-35. The score stayed the same until 55.8 left when Williamson drove the lane and connected on a floater.
The Wildcats threw the ball in and Hizer was bumped going up the right sideline but was called for a push off offensive foul giving. Magnolia got another basket on a leaner from Williamson and Brooks Parsons hit one of two foul shots to give Magnolia a 40-38 lead with 6.7 seconds left to play.
Magnolia elected to foul and with 5.5 seconds left Slider went to the line and hit nothing but net, but his second attempt rimmed in and out. The Wildcats quickly fouled, but Parsons missed both attempts and with 4.1 seconds left the Wildcats final shot was late and off the mark.
"Several things happened in the last two minutes, I'm not blaming anyone thing for this loss. We had it, we had chances but it just wasn't to be. I am very proud of how this team came together, they never once gave up. They have good attitudes and work very hard in practice and it shows in their conditioning. We are a very small club but we play big. Sure, I'm disappointed but these are great kids and it just wasn't meant to be," Wildcats' Coach Fred King said.
"We missed our last five shots and some crucial foul shots, but give Magnolia credit - they made the plays and we didn't."
Paden City was led by seniors Heasley and Hizer with 15 and 11 points. Sophomore Slider ended with six while Seth Bohrer had four on two exceptional moves to the bucket. Saxon added three on a nice lay in and a free throw.
Heasley added eight rebounds and finished his career with over 900 points in two years playing time with nearly 600 coming this season. Hizer also had five rebounds, two steals and two assists in his final game.
"We need to learn to make foul shots, not to often do you win games with 33 percent foul shooting. A win is a win however and we'll take it. Tyler Williamson really stepped up big for us down the stretch tonight. This was a typical Paden City-Magnolia ball game, everyone plays hard, goes all out and you don't know the winner until the buzzer sounds,"Magnolia Coach Dave Tallman said.