Recap: Everett 61, Malden 52

EVERETT, Mass. -- The Tide settled just in time against visiting neighbor Malden High last night.

Ahead for the final 25 minutes, Everett boys' basketball looked to be cruising to its first Greater Boston League victory of the season as it lead by as much as 20 points in the final half. A frenzy of fourth-quarter steals slipped the Golden Tornadoes within a single score late, but the Crimson Tide (4-3, 1-1) steadied in the final minute to best Malden (5-2, 1-1), 61-52.

“We got off to a nice start (at) 2-0 and lost three tough ones by a total of three points to real good teams,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso. “We were a little down on ourselves so it was important to bounce back.”

Leading by its smallest margin since the first quarter, 55-52, guard Tyree Gregory whipped a sideline pass into the paint to set up sophomore Gary Clark for two points off free throws and a 57-52 lead at 1:05 in the final quarter. After Malden sophomore Anthony Gilardi just missed a fade-away, Everett junior Marquis Holman grappled the rebound and whipped the ball across the court for a 59-52 layin by junior Lubern Figaro with 45 seconds left.

A foul shot from senior Gilly DeSouza and junior Timmance McKinney sealed the win at 61-52 in the final seconds.

“We went inside a couple of times with some set plays,” said DiBiaso. “That kind of calmed us down. (We) go some layups and free throws and that got us over the hump.”

Clark, a forward, battled his way through the flu to lead the Tide with 19 points and seven rebounds. Gregory netted 16 points, while forward Jahlil Price buried 13 points and grappled five rebounds (both Everett senior captains).

“All coach said was play defense and attack the basket,” said Clark. “We do a lot of rebound drills for me and close out drills for the zone. Coach wants me to attack the basket really hard”

In The Zone: A patient 2-3 zone and a strong paint presence from six-foot-four center Gilardi helped force turnovers and battle Malden back from a 49-29 deficit at 4:29 in the third quarter.

A 13-2 fourth quarter run by the Golden Tornadoes, including seven steals, finished with senior guard Rodney Morton stripping the ball at mid court and forcing two points from foul shots to gain a slim 55-52 deficit with 1:20 left.

“(Gilardi) has really good court vision and he is able to stay where the ball is,” said Malden coach Don Nally. “When you press the ball and take vision away it makes it a little easier to do it. We did a 2-3 and we pressed off of it.”

Back-to-back three-point-plays by Gilardi and junior Ray Sainstril off steals had previously finished an eight point streak for Malden with the Golden Tornadoes down 53-48 with 2:42 remaining.

Diamond Defense: The Crimson Tide used its standard 1-2-1-1 full-court press (or as coach DiBiaso referred to it, a "Diamond Trap") the entire game. The press was extremely effective early as Everett scored eight of its first nine points off steals rather than set plays.

Gregory, who tallied 13 points in the first half, caught the defense trying to lob over him and countered to both finish a layup and draw an intentional foul for his eighth straight point to put the Tide ahead 9-5 at 5:16 in the first quarter.

“That is our go to defense,” said DiBiaso. “You have to get back if they break it and you have to be aggressive and attack if they make a steal. (Gregory) can stop on a dime, he took the ball too the basket, and he has great body control (to) finish.”

A run of nine points between the first and second quarters pushed Everett farther ahead from a slim 17-16 lead in the final three seconds of the first. With all nine points coming from layups or free throws, McKinney battled under the rim to force a 26-16 foul shot at 6:08 in the second quarter.

“We tried to get the ball in the middle of the floor and not on the sidelines, because that is when we get stuck” said Nally. “You can not go down by 18. It is such a hard battle to come back from.”

A one and a half minute span that included all but one Everett basket coming off a counter attack lead to the Tide outscoring Malden 8-2 for a 49-29 lead at 4:29 in the third quarter.