Malden High Boys Basketball Looks to Rebound From Midseason Struggles

The Malden Boys Basketball team has hit the midway point in their season.

Currently, the team is 1-11 which is good for seventh in the Greater Boston League (GBL). They have scored a total of 589 points the whole season, but have allowed 802 points, putting them at a -213 point differential. The lone win came against Somerville which was an away game that has them 1-5 away and winless at home with 6 losses.

One extremely important aspect of the home games has been missing students. Since early January Principal Mastrangelo stated that due to the rise in Covid cases there would be no students at home games for any sport and only the family members of the team are allowed in. 

Though in recent events, students have been able to return to the games, this has still really hampered the students which range from the seniors who were able to watch two seasons of play to the freshmen and sophomores who have never had the opportunity to watch high school basketball. 

Assistant Coach Daniel Jurkowski elaborated saying, “It doesn’t feel like high school basketball. These sports are supposed to be this exciting, galvanizing, and a prideful time for the fans of the high school. It has been tough not letting the students come to watch their peers play basketball and our guys love playing in front of the students so it’s been a completely different atmosphere, but hopefully, with the numbers going down we can get the students back in the games.”

“The players, for the most part, have been listening to what the coaches are trying to implement in the game plans and practices, but we haven’t always executed those game plans,” Jurkowski believes. He continued, “We are listening, we are understanding what needs to be done, we are still making decisions on the court that don’t exactly correlate to what we try to run in practice so we need to get better at that and we need to pay attention to details more.”

The losses have ranged from being nail bitters with three games being with 10 points to some blowouts with six being around 20 points. Jurkowski commented, “To be honest, it hasn’t been great. It’s frustrating to lose because losing isn’t fun; nobody enjoys losing even when you have a great group of kids because you want to win for them. This is a good group of kids, they listen but we haven’t been able to successfully execute our game plan.” 

“The point of playing on the varsity level is to win games and we haven’t been able to do that a lot this year, but I give the kids a lot of credit for not quitting and bringing energy to practice every time to get better,” Jurkowski said.

Like all sports the last couple of years, Covid had not just hit the team but the GBL as a whole and players missed games and the games themselves had to be moved. “We had to reschedule a couple of games and then the GBL as a whole shut down for a week so we then had to move some more games. It’s been difficult with all the schedule changes in not knowing when the games are going to be,”  Jurkowski said. The situation with the players was “a two week period where we didn’t have too many kids for practice so we didn’t know who was showing up and we had some kids that had to sit out due to Covid but thankfully they’ve all recovered at a good time.”

Despite all of the complications with Covid, Jurkowski has noticed some players that have been able to step up to the plate for the team and earn a more involved role. 

“Two guys from last year in Ryan Dalencour and Justin Bell have come up big along with Ransley Saint-Jean who was on JV last year but now he’s a junior and starting most of the games.” Jurkowski also mentioned how “from last year we were missing Luke Zubrzycki cause he wasn’t able to play last year so it’s nice to have him back because he’s a very big contributor to the team since he’s one of our only big men.” 

Jurkowski finished by talking about another player who is in his first year on varsity. “Ronaldo Nguyen who couldn’t play last year too due to Covid has been a nice surprise in his first year on varsity by helping out a lot.”

Looking to the future of the season, Jurkowski hopes that “the win against Somerville can give us the momentum and lift our spirits a little bit.” He continued,  “For us, it’s mostly about energy and playing basketball and just not worrying about anything else.” 

The Golden Tornadoes have four GBL opponents left on the schedule. “The teams that we have left in the GBL are Somerville, who we just beat, Chelsea, who we know we can be competitive with, Lynn Classical, which was a super close game when we last played them, and Revere, which was another close game,” Jurkowski commented on those matchups. 

Jurkowski believes that, “even without the greatest results, the last four GBL games are winnable for us if we are able to improve in practice and in execution.”

Senior Captain Ryan Dalencour's leadership abilities have come to fruition this season as one of the team’s better players. Reflecting on his play so far, Dalencour said “I think I've been playing well. There are definitely places where I can improve on, like turnovers, I could get less turnovers in the game, but overall, I think I've been doing good attacking the basket and kicking the ball to my teammates for open shots. But there is definitely things that need improvement.” 

One of the things Dalencour said he could improve on was fouling too often. “I've been in foul trouble for I think two games and without those fouls,, I could be in and help us win the game. That's all my fault. I wasn't in the game for those moments.”

Dalencour thinks that one way the team could start improving is “Keeping the energy up in the game and just be focused the whole way through a push in the game and play for 32 minutes straight.” He is is confident in this goal since he’s continent in his ability in “getting everyone on the same page.”

Among the other players Jurkowski talked about was Junior Captain Justin Bell. Bell commented on his performance currently as “My best season individually ever with scoring a lot of points, but I could be playing better defense.”

The biggest surprise for him throughout the season has been the injuries and the lack of availability from them. 

“We came into the season as a healthy team. We thought we were going to be good since we had a lot more people from last year. Now we have a couple of injuries that are hurting the team so the consistency of people being here is low,” Jurkowski said.

Bell built off what Jurkowski said  commenting that the changes the team needs to make starts in practice. A lot of what we do doesn't translate to the game. Practice harder because that's where everything starts.”

Accountability has been Bell’s biggest role as a captain by being the one who “holds most people accountable if they miss a practice or something like that. So I feel like that has been some help I’ve been able to provide.”

Looking forward to next year when he will be a senior, Bell stated “I think it's going to be fun actually. There's going to be some pressure on me and the team to succeed, but I like pressure.”

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