HANNIBAL - River's Brett Price did his best Jimmy Chitwood impersonation Tuesday evening.
With River and Magnolia knotted at 52 and 13.8 seconds showing on the clock, Pilots' head coach Mark Romick called for a full timeout.
Without hesitation, Price told his head coach he wanted the ball.
"Coach started drawing up the play and I said, 'I want (the ball),'" Price confirmed.
Just 10 days after torching the Blue Eagles for 40 points in a 79-68 River win at New Martinsville, Romick had no choice but to listen to his team's leading scorer.
"It was going to be Brett all the way," Romick said.
Price took the in-bounds pass and had Blue Eagles' senior standout Mark Winters and his 6-6 and lengthy frame defending.
Price utilized several screens around the top of the key before making a move.
His driving lane was cut off, so he pivoted around and shot a 15-foot fader, which rolled around the rim and through just before the horn sounded, giving the Pilots a cherished 54-52 victory before a huge turnout inside the R.L. Potts Gymnasium.
"We had a set play in case (Magnolia) came out in zone, but when they went man, we just got the ball into Brett's hands," Romick said. "We went 1-4 low and gave him a high screen. He always wants the last shot and he delivered for us again."
Price, who led the now 10-3 Pilots with 19 points, hit a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first quarter, which gave the Pilots a 16-11 lead, which was actually the largest margin of the contest.
"The big shots is why I've practiced for so long," Price said. "You have to believe you're going to knock down the shot late and that's what it came down to tonight."
On the other bench, Magnolia head coach Dave Tallman was left stunned as Price's shot went through the net.
"Give Brett Price a lot of credit," Tallman said. "We had two guys in his face. We had a foul to give and probably should have fouled, but there's a risk there if they're in the act of shooting, obviously."
River led by four early in the fourth after triples by Matt Marconi and Price, but the Blue Eagles responded with seven straight, including two buckets from Winters, who had a brilliant 31-point, 14-rebound effort spoiled.
Pilots' senior Jordan Indermuhle, whom Romick said did "yeoman's work on the boards," converted a pair at the line, making it 50-49. Magnolia responded when Winters found Zach Willhoite all alone on the interior for an easy bucket.
The Pilots, who struggled from the field much of the evening, kept shooting the trey and Marconi dialed one up with just over a minute to go, tying the game at 52.
"We didn't shoot it real well," Romick said. "Magnolia has such a decisive size advantage on us that we had to rely on the outside shot. We weren't hitting early, but we kept shooting and we hit some big ones in clutch situations. Matt Marconi's shot was huge. He had struggled, too, but we just kept telling him to get his feet set and he'd hit one."
Magnolia, which played without senior Stephen Rogalski due to an injury, then turned the ball over and the Pilots were able to get the final shot.
Senior Cody Caldwell had a solid game for the Pilots. He complemented Price's scoring with 15 markers. Marconi buried four treys en route to 12.
Indermuhle had just six points, but he had 18 boards and battled with Winters and Willhoite quite well on the block.
The 8-3 Blue Eagles, who never substituted in the game, were led by Winters, who was a force on the block. When he caught it deep, it was a bucket for the Blue Eagles. Willhoite had 12 points and eight rebounds.
"I really think we're still a work-in-progress," Tallman admitted. "We had a great start, but we're in a little bit of a mid-year slump. It's all about peaking at the end and that's what we plan on doing."
The Pilots held a 35-30 edge on the glass. River had nine turnovers, which was one more than the Blue Eagles.
Romick's quint has two games scheduled this weekend. The Pilots journey to Caldwell on Friday, then host Buckeye Trail in a Saturday afternoon makeup encounter at Hannibal. Jayvee action tips off at 1:00.
River made it a clean sweep when it captured the reserve game, 34-26.
MAGNOLIA (52) - Emch 1, 1-2 3; Winters 14, 3-7 31; Boswell 0, 4-6 4; Elliott 1, 0-0 2; Willhoite 5, 2-4 12; Totals: 21, 10-19 52. RIVER (54) - Marconi 4, 0-0 12; Isaly 0, 0-0 0; Dierkes 0, 0-0 0; Brown 1, 0-0 2; Indermuhle 2, 2-4 6; Caldwell 6, 0-0 15; Price 7, 2-2 19; Eggleston 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 20, 4-6 54.
Three-Point Goals: M - None. R - Marconi (3), Price (3), Caldwell (3).