By Bob Evans
CANTON – Momentum is a funny thing. A team has it and then all of a sudden it switches to the other side.
That is how it worked for the Malvern boys basketball team Tuesday night in the Division IV regional semifinal against Cleveland Heights Lutheran East at the Canton Memorial Field House.
The Hornets built a sizeable lead midway through the second quarter. But the Falcons grabbed the momentum and came back to defeat the Hornets 69-64 in overtime.
In the final four minutes of the second period Malvern built a 14-point lead. Using their fast-paced full court press, the Falcons forced six straight Hornet turnovers and turned them into baskets and cut the Malvern lead to 30-27 at halftime.
“All in all I thought we played pretty good except for the end of the second quarter,” said Malvern head coach Dennis Tucci. “That was not D4 (Division 4) pressure we were facing. It was D1 or D2 pressure. We handled it good in the second half.”
The Hornets end another great season at 18-9, while the win improved the Falcons to 17-9.
The nine losses by the Falcons are deceiving as they play the likes of Cleveland St. Ignatius and St. Edwards, just to name a couple.
“I am very proud of the guys,” Tucci said. “This was one of the best games we played all year.”
Malvern led 17-8 at the end of the first period, 30-27 at the intermission and 44-41 going into the fourth quarter.
The Falcons opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game.
The quarter went back and forth with the score tied at 57-all with four seconds left. Following a Hornet time out, Malvern senior Jaret Majestic drove along the baseline, but the shot fell off the edge of the rim. Senior Mark Mayle got the tip but it would not drop, sending the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, the Hornets held a 64-63 lead with 1:13 left. They would not score again.
Mayle led the Hornets with a game-high 29 points and 16 rebounds before fouling out in the overtime period with Malvern leading 61-59.
“When he fouled out, I knew we would have a hard time,” Tucci said. “But everyone else tried to pick up the slack.”
Majestic followed with 25, including three three pointers.
For the Falcons, junior Jordan Burge led the way with 27 points, while Tyler Powell added 18 before fouling out. Senior Maurico Tate also scored in double figures for the Falcons with 13.
The game was played in front of a near sell-out crowd that voiced their opinions loudly after each possession to the officials, who didn’t have their best game.