RIDGEWAY — Despite entering Friday’s matchup in the quarterfinals of the Piedmont District Tournament with nearly identical records, Magna Vista’s boys basketball team proved that it’s had Tunstall’s number all year.
The Warriors (10-12) won both regular-season meetings by an average of 8.5 points, and they claimed their third win against the Trojans by a score of 61-51 at Magna Vista High School.
The Warriors advance to face top-seeded Halifax County in the tournament’s semifinals on Monday in South Boston. Magna Vista lost to the Comets by just six points on Tuesday of last week, so they have a chance to avenge that loss.
“Any time you’re in a tournament format and you get to keep playing, that’s a good thing. It means you’re winning,” Warriors head coach Patrick Mills said. “To get this win tonight and have a chance to go down there … it’s going to be tough. They’re a very good team, but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Regardless of the outcome of Monday’s game, Magna Vista will also be preparing for a Region 3D play-in game at home against Hidden Valley at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21. The Warriors intend to use the rest of the Piedmont District tournament as a warm-up for the regional games, where a loss will end their season.
“Just trying to build a lot of chemistry and play hard and know that it’s win or go home,” Magna Vista sophomore guard Spencer Hairston said.
While the Trojans may be out of the running for the Piedmont championship, they also have a Region 3D play-in game on Friday against William Byrd.
“We still got a lot of work to do,” Trojans coach Rick Blackwell said. “We’re still trying to work out some kinks.”
Both teams struggled from the field to start Friday’s contest, with Tunstall (9-14) recording the first points of the game nearly three minutes in on a Jaylen Crews putback. Warriors senior forward Ryan Johnson hit a trio of 3-pointers to score Magna Vista’s first nine points. He finished with 11 in the quarter and 14 in the game.
After the slow offensive start, Magna Vista led 19-11 after the first quarter. Tunstall won the second quarter 13-7 and trailed by just two at halftime.
Hairston scored all of his 15 points in the second half, and 10 of them came in the third to help build the Warriors' lead to as many as 13 points.
“We started moving the ball more and playing as a team,” Hairston said of the team’s run.
Magna Vista’s lead swelled to 18 points in the fourth before Tunstall closed on a 12-5 run to narrow the final margin.
Tunstall freshman D’dric Rogers led the Trojans with 14 points. Crews backed him up with nine, and Jamison Graves supplied eight.
Tavin Hairston added 10 points, and Courdae Gravely scored eight in a well-balanced effort from Magna Vista.
Now the Warriors can look forward to the Comets once again and making some noise in the region beyond that.
“It feels good to finally get to play Halifax with our whole team. We didn’t have Ty Grant on Tuesday,” Hairston said. “We’re just trying to get the Piedmont District championship.”
Tunstall, meanwhile, will have practice days instead of games to prepare for its own region contest. The first priority is fixing the offensive sets that appeared to be broken on Friday.
“We didn’t do a great job of running the offense tonight and executing,” Blackwell said. “I don’t think (Magna Vista is) hard to figure out. I just think we need to do a better job executing.”
T: D’dric Rogers 14, Jaylen Crews 9, Jamison Graves 8, Majare Vincent 6, Dillon Martin 5, Drew Tipton 3, Jamahn Bruce 2, Aiden Terry 2, Buck Long 2.
MV: Spencer Hairston 15, Ryan Johnson 14, Tavin Hairston 10, Courdae Gravely 8, Tyler Johnson 6, Rion Martin 6, Ty Grant 2.