On Monday, January 30th, The Malden High School Boys Basketball earned an official berth into the state tournament thanks to their 70-60 victory over the Wakefield Memorial High School Warriors. Coming into the game Malden had an overall record of 9-4, and had been on a three game winning streak. They went up against the at the time 5-6 Warriors and were looking to extend the streak.
The Tornadoes started the game aggressively, as senior captain Nathaniel Ilebode shot turned into the first basket for Malden in their first possession. The boys had defeated the Warriors 47-45 just two weeks prior and were confident that they would do the same again. From the tip-off, the boys asserted their defence as well as their offense with high levels of intensity and efficiency. Throughout the rest of the first quarter the Tornadoes continued to play restraining defense as they capitalized on every Wakefield turnover and converted them to a lot of fast break points. The first quarter ended with MHS leading Wakefield 22-11 thanks to a fast start.
The Warriors finally got into their rhythm in the of the second quarter as they forced the Tornadoes to turn it over multiple times and capitalized with fast break points.. The Warriors’ determined offense, as well as their stifling defense were able to cut the Malden lead to just two points within the first four minutes of the second quarter. However, Malden were able to contain the ferocious run by the Warriors. After their lead being cut to just two points, the Tornadoes for the most part traded baskets with Wakefield for the rest of the quarter, not allowing them to take the lead. The boys went into halftime with 36-32 lead, but giving up their comfortable lead at the end of the first quarter.
The third quarter began similarly to the second, with the Warriors playing tight defense and forcing even more turnovers. Head coach Don Nally was forced to take a time out within three minutes of the third quarter after his team was put into intense pressure by the Wakefield. When play resumed, senior guard Bernard Taylor took over the game offensively, making a couple of momentum shifting three pointers as well as a few contested layups. Thanks to Taylor converting tough shots as well as the rest of the team's ball movement the Tornadoes took a seven point lead into the fourth quarter with the score of 50-43.
The fourth quarter began with another ferocious run by the Warriors, once again cutting their margin of deficient to two points within the first two minutes. This was the closest Wakefield got to tying the game however, as once again the Tornadoes picked up the pace and never looked back. Thanks to great a great offensive display, the Tornadoes put together a run of their own. With little time left in the game, Malden lead Wakefield 67-53. Junior guard, Fern Berard converted a three point shot to close the game, and give the Tornadoes the win a double digits, with the final score of 70-60.
After the game, junior forward Malik Bisset mentioned that one of his takeaways from the game was that “when the team is up, [they] have to hold on to their lead”. When asked about his thoughts on making the state tournament, Bisset mentioned that “[he is] very excited to qualify for states” and that “[he] is looking forward to the experience.” Bisset continued to say that although the team has already qualified for the state tournament, “[the team’s] goal is to finish the strong and win the remaining games in their schedule.
When asked about the team qualifying for states, sophomore guard Robens Garcia stated that “it is only one step” and that “[the team] has to keep working hard so that [they] could improve and get to where [they] want to be.” With six games left, Garcia mentioned that “[the team] can still insure a state a game at home” but to do that “[they] need to continue [their] win streak.