BY ABHISHEK RANA & SUBIN BASTOLA
The season has come to an end for the Malden High School Boys Basketball team as they finish with an overall record of 16-6. An impressive season for the team concluded on Friday, February 28th after a loss in first round of the playoff against the Somerville High Highlanders.
Coached by Don Nally, and captained by seniors Nathaniel Ilebode and Bernard Taylor, the team had an excellent final season in the Greater Boston League. The team hopes to continue its winning ways next season, as they move to the Northeast Conference.
Last season the team finished with an overall record of 8-11, and this year looked to go above .500 and make the playoffs. Before the season began coach Nally described the team as “battle tested” and expressed his goal for the season as “getting a home game in the state tournament.” The boys did just that, improving their regular season record to 16-5, as they qualified for the state tournament and hosted a home playoff game at the MHS Finn Gym for the first time in eight years.
The Tornadoes started the season on a roll, winning their first five games including four wins by a comfortable margin. Games against Tewksbury Memorial, Greater Lawrence Tech, Milford, and Woburn Memorial were all won by a margin of at least 17 points. A dominant start to the season with the boys playing great offense and stifling defense, gave the team tremendous momentum heading into the next stretch of the season.
Looking to continue its undefeated start to the season, the Tornadoes hosted the Revere High Patriots in a back and forth affair. Down by three points and with seconds left to play, senior captain Bernard Taylor converted a buzzer beating three pointer to send the game into overtime. The back and forth game continued into overtime, but unfortunately, the Tornadoes came up short by a single point and lost the game by a final score of 72-71.
After the heartbreaking lost against Revere High, the Tornadoes lost two more games in similar style. The team’s record fell to 5-3 after losses against Pope John XXIII and Sommerville with a scoreline of 51-47 and 48-47 respectively.
Looking to redeem themselves after a three game losing streak, the Tornadoes played Pope John XXIII for the second time this season. This time however, the team defeated Pope John by a comfortable scoreline of 67-52 and went back to winning ways. Following this, the boys won six of their next seven games and were in the driver seat for securing a playoff spot, with a record of 12-4.
After a tough loss against Everett High of February 11th, the team once again bounced back and won their four remaining games in the regular season. A regular season record of 16-5 helped the Tornadoes secure the number seven seed in the Division 1 MIAA boys basketball state tournament. This meant that with the seventh seed, the Tornadoes got the right to host the ninth seeded Somerville High Highlanders at home.
The game started out with the Highlanders on a roll, dominating play on both sides of the court. After the first quarter Somerville high lead 17-8 and seemed in route to a comfortable win. However, the Tornadoes slowly chipped away at the Highlander lead in the second and third quarter. At the end of the third, had cut their deficit to only one point and were looking to complete the comeback.
Unfortunately however, the comeback feel short as Somerville regained control of the game and ultimately defeated the higher seeded Malden, 45-37.
After the game, junior center Malik Bissett stated that “turnovers and [them missing] easy shots” in fourth quarter cost them them the game. He further elaborated that “[the team] didn’t get comfortable enough and rushed some shots as well.”
When asked about his thoughts in the overall season, Bisset stated that “[he] looks back at it as a success.” He explained that making the postseason this year “was a big step” moving forward and that they want to “make more noise” next season.