Boys’ Basketball Fights for State Tournament Berth Against Revere

Delina Yohannes also contributed to this article. All photos by Haset Tesfaw.

Malden’s Boys Basketball team stepped out onto the court with a 9-7 record and in fourth place in the GBL (Greater Boston League). They had high hopes and determination running through their veins as they faced off against Revere because a win would have insured their place in the state tournament.

The stands were full of thrilled fans waiting for the game to begin. They started off by announcing the names of the players on each team, and then the tip off began the first quarter. Malden gained possession of the ball putting them at a headstart but it was hastily taken away by Revere. 

Alejandro Hincapie scored for Revere within the first 20 seconds. This didn’t put Malden down as they racked up six points before Revere scored again. Revere could only get so many shots before Malden stole the ball from under their feet.

Justin Bell started off with a strong lead as he made the first three pointer of the game. His shots seemed supernatural as they always made it in the hoop. He almost never missed a shot and even when he did Malden grabbed the rebounds and scored.

The first quarter ended with Malden leading 20 - 9. At this point the enthusiasm of the fans cheered Malden’s  11 point lead. There seemed to be nothing that could stop their flow.

The second quarter began and Revere stepped onto the court eager to make a comeback. Malden fouled Domenic Boudreau, who made one of two free throws, and then built on this momentum.

Domenic Boudreau inbounding the ball.

Revere stepped up their game and made quick, seamless passes to each other evading Malden’s defense. Revere still couldn’t quite close the gap as they trailed behind Malden with an 11 point difference. 

Throughout the game Malden’s guard Ethan Phejarasai maneuvered through each defender like a snake and was defended closely by Hincapie who was playing man on Phejarasai most of the time, but this didn’t intimidate him as he broke through the wall and still scored points in back-to-back possessions.

Left to Right: Alejandro Hincapie dribbling around Ethan Phejarasai; Hincapie defended by Phejarasai.

The crowd shouted out the starting freshman guard’s nickname “President E”, praising him after each made basket. 

In the third quarter, the game started to amp up. Ezechial Noelsaint was Malden’s best player of the game, scoring 22 points. It seemed like every chance he had he made a jump shot. Even though he faced double teams all night he still made shots and kept a valiant attitude.

Midway through the game, Revere subbed in undersized sophomore Joshua Mercado at 5’7”. He showed his true potential with a three pointer. He stunned the crowd and silenced it for a few seconds.

Left to Right: Justin Bell ready to steal possession of the ball from Joshua Mercado; Joshua Mercado and Vincent Nichols blocking Addissu Tsige's pass to Jonald Joseph.

The rest of the game played differently, as each team kept missing their shots. Malden started slowing down and Revere took their opening, stealing the ball. Finally the ball migrated back into Malden’s possession where Jonald Joseph took a jump shot and scored two points.

In the 4th quarter Malden was still fired up but Revere, determined to win, started to catch up, closing the score to a five point difference between the two teams.

Revere went out with fire in their eyes and determined looks on their faces. They started to rack up points until they tied the game 43-43 with only six minutes left. Malden needed to catch up with Revere and scored whenever they saw the opening to do so.

The score started to switch back-and-forth. It was as if the players were playing hot potato and the ball was on fire. Still, Malden racked up enough points to take the lead with a a three pointer from Bell.

Hincapie tied the game up once again with a three pointer. The stands were riveted and grew with anticipation seeing such a close game in action. 

Malden’s Jose Ferreira stepped out onto the court after subbing in for Phejerasai, leading Hincapie to find his new target. Ferreira scored two points and put Malden in the lead once again with a score of 50 - 48. Revere was set on closing this gap.

Left to Right: Alejandro Hincapie trying to gain possession of the ball from Jose Ferreira; Jose Ferreira defending the ball from Alejandro Hincapie.

Back-to-back fouls were called as Malden and Revere butted heads, tying once again at 52 - 52. Phejarasai was put back onto the court to hopefully save this game. The crowd screamed out “President E” as he stole the ball from defenders. 

Within the last minute of the game Malden held possession of the ball yet missed a few of their shots as Revere took it into their own hands to keep themselves in the lead. The score turned upside down as Revere took the lead 59-56.

Malden gained possession of the ball once again but seemed to be afraid of missing and kept passing to each other with no one willing to take the shot. Revere’s Hincapie saw his opening and stole the ball from under their feet scoring a final 3 pointer for the game. 

Most of the game Malden held their lead but Revere’s mentality and never backing down slipped them up. Revere held strong and kept pushing which was intimidating yet Malden still powered through with each of their plays. It was a great game with a beautiful display of each team's capabilities.

With the game coming to an end and an outcome nobody predicted, the players and coaches wanted to reflect on themselves and this game.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Jonald Joseph attempts a free throw; Justin Bell protecting the ball near mid-court; Multiple defenders anticipating a shot

“The boys had a very strong first half, they played well and then I’m not sure what happened…we let our foot off the gas,” stated Daniel Jurkowski, the assistant coach of the boys varsity team. “After half time, after we came out of the locker room, we came out with a different mentality. Revere wanted the game and it showed on the court,” he continued.

The players of the team also agreed as it had become one of their weaknesses. “We always seem to lose our momentum after the first half of the game. We get lost in the points at the beginning and it changes our mentality,” Joseph, a captain of the team, explained. “When things don’t go our way we tend to not be able to hone ourselves back in or finish off strong,” added Peyton Carron, another captain of the team. Bell, the third captain of the team, also added on, ”we started off really good but we really just slipped up and let them take over.”

Through these weaknesses the team also has many strengths: “With their leadership and their ability on and off the court, the captains help to encourage the team to stay together,” Jurkowski noted. 

“We need to improve on our ability to keep the lead and not to let up deep in the game,” added Bell.

From last year things have also improved within the team itself. “Definitely the energy level because last year, I’m going to be honest, there was no energy and it was harder to be motivated in that atmosphere,” Joseph said. ”We’re closer as a team this year and we work harder in practice and outside of practice,” Bell stated.

There were moments the players could have improved on and there were moments that really showed their true potentials. Overall the boys took this as a learning experience and took into account that they still performed admirably. “I think this game, even though the outcome was not as we had originally wanted, was one of my best. I got 19 points and double doubled which I’m really proud of,” Joseph stated.

Jonald Joseph attempts a two-point floater.

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