By Steve Freker
This one had all the checkmarks of a potential tough start for head coach Don Nally’s Malden High School boys’ basketball squad in its season opener on Tuesday.
The Tornados were on the road against a tough opponent in Tewksbury High, with Malden fielding a team featuring no returning starters and a whole busload of question marks. Despite all the uncertainty, the Blue and Gold boys answered the bell and then some in a solid, 62-52 victory over the host Redmen. Senior Robens Garcia led the way for Malden with 18 points, and senior first-year varsity player Raushad Moore chipped in with 10 points and 12 rebounds for Malden.
“It was a tough draw for us to open the season, but our players responded,” said coach Nally, presiding over his 15th season opener as one of the longest-serving Tornados basketball coaches in school history. He added, “We liked to see the way our team played aggressively and stuck together. For our first time out, it was very encouraging.”
Malden never trailed in this one, after the middle of the first quarter. The visitors led after one period, 15-10, and quickly built the lead up to 22-13 midway through the second quarter when Garcia sliced through the Tewksbury defense and laid one in. At the half, Malden hung on to a 10-point lead at 31-21.
“We played pretty well defensively at times in the first half but we knew [Tewksbury] was not going away, not in their home opener,” coach Nally said.
Malden upped its lead to 45-32 after three quarters, with contributions from several players, including senior Christian Monahan-DaSilva, with some key points and rebounds and another Tornado newcomer, senior Billy Stickney. Tewksbury kept coming in the fourth quarter and Malden was able to hold off the Redmen for the win.
“We saw a lot of good efforts, but we also saw plenty that we have to work on and get better,” coach Nally said. “It is always great to get that first one though.”
Malden was back in action last night in its Northeastern Conference (NEC) opener on the road at Lynn English. The Tornados host a pair of home games next week: St. John’s Prep on Tuesday, Dec. 18 and Peabody (NEC game) on Thursday, Dec. 20. Both games are at 7:00 p.m.