Lakeland, FL---The Malone Tigers are once again celebrating a boy's basketball state championship, the 14th in the history of that storied hoops program.
Coach Welch and his Tigers beat Hamilton in the 1A championship game Thursday 76-61 at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland.
The Tigers started off well enough, but so did Hamilton, both teams posting 18 first quarter points. The Tigers, led by a 25 point first half from senior Chai Baker, able to pull out to a 2 point lead by halftime, 31-29.
The second half belonged to Malone, a 25-12 third quarter run put the Tigers in charge, with Alonze Bailey, Antwain Johnson and Baker taking turns hitting the shots.
Malone pulling away to the 17 point win, with Baker winding up with 44 points on 12-22 shooting, including 3-8 from beyond the arc.
The Tigers now with 14 boy's basketball state titles, second all time and now just 4 behind Miami High's mark of 18.
This the team's first title since Malone won 5 straight from 1994 to 1998.
The attached video shows the following:
Tigers in white, and obviously the game plan, feed senior Chai Baker, nice assist from Antwain Johnson, Baker goes baseline.
Then a bit later, it's Baker with the drive and the late feed to Xavier Gray.
Then back to Baker, this time for three, coach Welch and his guys head to the locker room at the half leading 31-29.
Second half, Baker getting plenty of help, first Alonze Bailey with the shake and the jumper, that stretches the lead to double digits.
Then it's Johnson driving and scoring, a 25-12 run in the third basically seals it.
4th quarter, it's Baker with the follow on the miss by Brelove. Malone wins 78-61, Baker with 44.