Everett: For two games, Malden Head Coach Don Nally could see it building. First, his team fought hard and edged out Somerville on Monday night with contributions coming from multiple sources. Then his team lost a hardfought overtime battle at Beverly missing essentially 2 of his starting 5 players including his leading scorer. Last night, against #5 Everett, Nally saw all the hard team play turn into the most rewarding win of the season as the Tornadoes overcame a slow start to down arch rival Everett, 59-51.
"This is one of the most satisfying wins I've had as coach of Malden High School basketball." Nally said as his team headed for the short bus ride back to Malden. "We got contributions from all different places. Lovenge (Francois) was big on the boards (7 rebounds) and as the point man against their press. Mark Rogers moved the ball (8 assists) all night on offense, Bryan Mitchell had 2 tremendous blocks and was active on the glass (9 rebounds) and Danley Exilhomme played an outstanding game for us on the defensive end. And then of course, Anthony Gilardi was quite simply the most dominating player on the court."
Gilardi, after sitting out all or parts of the previous two games with a hand injury, was outstanding for the Tornadoes. The junior forward scored 31 points, including 21 in the second half, and added 14 rebounds and refused to let the Tide back in the game despite a couple of late runs. Gilardi is now averaging 22 PPG and over 10 RPG as he continues to make his claim as one of the best players in the state.
"Anthony was tremendous tonight, just tremendous." Nally added. "I think he played a really smart game in that he didn't try to do too much in the first half, he let the game come to him. Then, in the second half, he pretty much took the game over."
Everett started the game strong, scoring the game's first 8 points before Malden settled in and let 15-7 after one quarter. The Tide was poised to go into halftime with a potential double digit lead before the Tornadoes rallied with a Mitchell layup, Gilardi jumper and a Rogers 3pt field goal as time wound down to close the gap to 28-25 after one half.
In the 3rd quarter, the Tornadoes threatened to break the game open. Gilardi nailed back to back 3pt field goals followed by a Rogers layup as the Tornadoes went on a 12-0 run to lead 39-31 with under two minutes to go in the 3rd. The Tide would go on a 10-0 run of their own at the end of the 3rd and into the 4th to take a 41-39 lead with 6 minutes to go in the game. From there, Gilardi, Malden's halfcourt defense, and the Tornadoes new secret offensive weapon sealed the deal for the Tornadoes. Skip 'The Microwave' Langston came off the bench in the 4th quarter and scored 5 points in a 2 minute span, including a dagger 3pt field goal from the right corner with under 2 minutes left to put Malden up by 10, 54-44 and put any thoughts of an Everett comeback to bed.
"I'm really so happy for Skip." Nally said. "Here's a kid who saw little or no playing time for much of the first half of the season but he kept buying in and working hard and, quite honestly, he has been one of our best offensive players over the past week of the season."
The win improves Malden to 8-5 on the season as they prepare for their 3rd straight 3 game week this week. The Tornadoes will take on Medford in Medford on Tuesday night followed by a road game at Belmont on Thursday before returning home on Saturday afternoon to take on Westfield. The first two game times will be 7pm with the Westfield contest slated for 4pm.