By Steve Freker
If the Malden High boys’ basketball team looks back on its season and wants to point to a time where the season made an about-face in the right direction, the Tornado Holiday Classic tournament will be the place.
Playing their best basketball of the season, Malden swept through the two-game slate with wins over Revere and Snowden International to claim the championship, the second victory coming in a convincing, 73-54 decision over Snowden.
Malden topped Revere, 56-48, in a first-round game last week. Snowden knocked off Medford, 68-67 in that round.
Malden got a fantastic game out of senior David Mervilus in the title game. The 6-3 swing man exploded for a career-high 37 points, scoring just over half of the Tornadoes’ team points for the night in leading the hosts to the win.
“He [Mervilus] got hot early and never really slowed down,” said Malden head coach Don Nally, whose team improved to 3-3 overall. “David [Mervilus] was playing steady for us coming into the weekend, but he really turned it up a notch in this tournament.”
Malden started off even with the Boston City League visitors, who featured a front line that measured 6-7, 6-5 and 6-5 on height, leading 17-13 after the first quarter; Mervilus led the way with nine first-quarter points. Malden junior Cameron Lloyd and senior captain Christian Monahan-Dasilva heated up in the second quarter as the Tornadoes extended their lead to 34-22 at halftime. “We played much better defensively as the game went on, especially in the second quarter and third quarter,” coach Nally said.
Despite being out-sized up front, Malden hustled underneath and won the rebounding battle overall. Leading the way were Monahan-Dasilva, Mervilus and senior Rashaud Moore. “That was definitely a key to the game. We were giving away a lot of length with [Snowden], and we told our players we could not afford to give them second and third shots.”
A pair of three-pointers by senior Billy Stickney and some driving layups by senior Robens Garcia fueled the third quarter scoring, along with eight more points from Mervilus, as Malden rolled out to a 53-37 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was largely “The Mervilus Magic Show” as the Malden senior did not miss – sinking five straight shots (three “threes”), including one final dagger from NBA range with about 1:45 left to play.
“Even though [Mervilus] scored a lot of points, he was not forcing shots. He just did not miss many,” coach Nally said, noting the Tornadoes senior was averaging 10-12 points a game previously. “It was a big night and he helped us win. We needed a weekend like this to get us back on track.” Coming into the tournament, Malden had dropped three straight games.
Malden knocked off Revere, 56-48, in tourney first-round game
Malden junior Cam Lloyd led all scorers with 20 points in a 56-48 win over Revere in the first round of the Tornado Holiday Classic Tournament. Lloyd got some help from teammates seniors Billy Stickney and Rashaud Moore on the night, as both played their best game of the year in the win. Stickney hit four three-pointers and finished with 14 points, six rebounds and several big assists. Rashaud was all over the boards all night with 14 rebounds and 10 points. Senior Christian Monahan-Dasilva had 10 rebounds and eight points, and senior Robens Garcia had eight points.
Sophomore Wilfredo Martinez led Revere with 12 points, and Patriot junior E.J. Leone had 10 points on the game.
Malden is back in action on the road Friday at Swampscott at 7:00 p.m. The Tornadoes squad then hosts archrival Medford High at home on Tuesday, January 8 before hitting the road again for four straight games.
TOURNEY NOTES: Malden senior Christian Monahan-Dasilva was selected to the Tornado Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team for his efforts in the two wins. Revere High sophomore Wilfredo Martinez was also named to the All-Tournament Team. He scored a team-high 15 points in a consolation game loss to Medford High School. MHS Director of Athletics Charlie Conefrey said he is pleased with the tournament result and also the crowds that turned out. “There was a good amount of our students both nights, and they were vocal in support of our team. That was good to see.” This was the first time Malden had hosted a holiday week tournament since 2015.