Malden: Following a very emotional and tournament-like game at Everett on Friday night, Malden would be forgiven for having a letdown Monday night when they returned to the court to take on 6-3 Boston English on Monday Night at the Finn. For a half, the Tornadoes seemed content to play the same up and down reckless style that the Bulldogs favor, leading to a 54-47 Tornado halftime lead that had all the makings of a shoot-out. Instead, the Tornadoes tightened up the defensive pressure in the second half, holding the Bulldogs to just five 3rd quarter points and 16 overall in the second half en route to a 80-63 victory, the team's sixth in seven games.
"We kind of got caught in their style of play in the first half." Senior co-captain Rodney Morton, who led the Tornadoes with 24 points, said after the game. "They trap all over the floor so it leads to a lot of open looks, but also to a lot of turnovers. In the second half we got back to playing our style and were able to shut them down."
The fast paced style of the first half resulted in numerous fouls, particularly on the Malden side. For the game, the Bulldogs attempted 33 free throws, making 21. The 33 attempts represent a season high for Malden opponents. Malden, for their part, attempted 23, making 12. The Bulldogs nearly wore the Tornadoes down in the first half with countless second and third chance opportunities around the basket, leaving the Tornadoes starting big men, Anthony Gilardi and Bryan Mitchell, in early foul trouble. Gilardi would foul out of the game in the second half with 15 points on just 10 shots and a season low 2 rebounds. Mitchell collected a season high 14 rebounds but was in and out of the game due to foul trouble. With their starting front court in foul trouble, the Tornado bench came through in a big way for the Tornadoes. Senior forward Jason Surpris scored a career-high 19 points to go along with 7 rebounds. Supris found openings around the basket all night, particularly in the second half, when he scored 12 of his 19 points. Junior forward Lavenge Francois also came up huge for the Tornadoes, scoring 6 points while grabbing a season-high 7 rebounds and dishing out a game-high 6 assists.
"Their style kind of suited my game. Up and down the floor and they left a lot of openings around the basket which we were able to exploit." Francois said in the victorious locker room. "I think our bench really picked up our starters tonight, which is the sign of a pretty good team."
At 6-2, the Tornadoes are indeed a 'pretty good team' and they will be put to the challenge Wednesday night in Medford when they take on the Mustangs. A win will push the Tornadoes to 2-1 in the GBL and just three wins shy of an automatic tournament berth. Game time is at 7pm.