"If we had executed [our game plan] and did anywhere close what we did today, [Magnolia] would have [gained] a bit of an advantage," he explained.
"They would have known what we were going to try to do to them, and [the outcome of this game] might have been different. We came out and did what we wanted to do and it worked out pretty well."
Stephens' game plan called for his players to deny the Blue Eagles' two 6-6 big men, Winters and Zach Willhoite, from access to the low post.
"We wanted to get them off the blocks where they wanted to go, but recover back to their shooters if they kicked it out," Stephens said.
The tactic held Winters, the state's leading scorer at 28.6 points a game, to an uncharacteristic 7-for-21 effort from the floor. Willhoite, who averaged 15 points leading up to the state tournament, went just 1 for 5 from the floor and ended up with just two points.
Wallace had 16 and freshman Chase Harler 10 for the Knights, who improved to 14-12.
Winters had 20 points for the Eagles, who finished 21-5.
Central will face third-seeded Charleston Catholic in Friday's 9:30 a.m. Class A semifinal. The Knights fell 62-42 to the Irish during the regular season, but Stephens believes his team's height could force a different outcome this time around.
"We're a little bit bigger than them, so hopefully that works to our benefit," he said. "Maybe we can rebound and play better than we did the first game."
Catholic earned its spot in the semis with a 61-48 victory over Buffalo.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.