Drury High School unraveled in the fourth quarter and lost to Malden on Saturday afternoon.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Drury High School boys basketball team led most of the game against Division 1 Malden on Saturday afternoon.
But in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils ran out of steam just as the Golden Tornadoes returned to full strength.
Malden used a 16-0 run to erase a six-point deficit and scored a 51-40 win over Drury in the second game of a double-header in MCLA's Amsler Campus Center. Medford defeated Westfield in the first game, 67-56.
Malden's Anthony Gilardi scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Tyler Briggs and Alex Heck each finished in double figures for the Blue Devils (2-2).
Drury, playing its second game in less than 24 hours, hung tough with the North Shore team and withstood its full-court press and a couple of comeback bids after Malden fell behind 16-2 in the first quarter.
But the press got to Drury in a big way down the stretch — forcing three turnovers during the decisive run.
"We kind of woke up in the fourth," Malden coach Don Nally said. "It was the press. We just wore them down.
"I think Brian Mitchell, one of our captains, got fouls early, and he's the difference when we press. If he's on, we press well. If he's sitting on the bench, we don't really press that well.
"Once we got him back in and got him on the ball, we were able to create some havoc there."
Drury coach Jack Racette agreed that Malden wore down his squad.
"We had a couple of threes that went in and out [in the fourth]," Racette said. "We made them early. We didn't make them late. We played last night, and the legs were a little weak.
"We were up two, and we missed a three that would have put us up 5 with 5-1/2 minutes to go. That's a big basket. Instead, they come down and get a basket and a steal. And then instead of our lead, they have a six- or eight-point lead instantly.
"Their pressure wore us down, absolutely."
For most of the game, the story was Drury's defense.
In the first quarter, the Blue Devils forced Malden into committing 11 turnovers. In the first half, the Tornadoes were whistled for seven offensive fouls.
"We don't have shot blockers," Racette said. "We have to defend the paint by taking charges. They didn't back down. We stepped up, and we took a lot.
"Then they stopped the dribble, and they kind of were throwing it into the post and shooting over us."
Gilardi scored 15 of his 22 in the second half. Holding him to seven at half-time was, in itself, an accomplishment; Nally said the junior is on pace to score his 1,000th career point this season.
After Briggs hit two 3-pointers in the first four minutes to help Drury build a 16-2 lead, Malden started chipping away and finally tied the game, 22-22 , with 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the second quarter.
But Briggs was hacked in the post on Drury's next trip and converted both foul shots to regain the lead. And after a charging call against Malden, Michael Robinson put back an offensive rebound, got fouled and finished the three-point play to give Drury a 27-22 lead at half-time.
Drury maintained its lead in the third quarter thanks largely to the rebounding of Kareen Beckett and Justin Girard, who had five caroms each in the period. Each finished with nine rebounds in the game.
Nick Trombley hit a jumper at the foul line in the middle of the fourth quarter to give Drury its last lead, 39-33, before Malden took control.
Gilardi scored seven and added a steal and a defensive rebound during the 16-0 run that left Drury behind, 49-39 with just less than two minutes left to play.
Drury is right back in action on Monday night, playing Monument Mountain in the championship game of the Gene Wein Tournament in Bucky Bullett Gymnasium.
"[Malden] was a good test," Racette said. "We talk about getting better every game. We got beat at Chicopee Comp. We came back and beat St. Joe and played a little better. I thought we played better against Frontier, which was a good win for us [Friday] night. And then we played better tonight than we played the first three games.
"That's our goal: to keep getting better. We never talk about the opponent. We just talk about ourselves. We have to get better as a team. And I think we did better today than we did yesterday. That's good."