MALDEN —After the Peabody boys basketball team started the fourth quarter with a 23-point lead, it looked like the Tanners would cruise to their first win of the season. Malden had other plans.
The Golden Tornados rallied back, eventually tying the game at 66-66 with the game coming down to an inbounds pass with less than a second to play for the Tanners. Joe O’Neill (15 points) executed the pass perfectly, finding Chris Canela (15 points) in the paint, who finished with a layup as time expired to give Peabody the 68-66 win.
“We just ran Chris Canela off of a couple of screens and we were fortunate that he got open,” Peabody coach Thad Broughton said of the final play. “Joe made a really nice pass to him. We really started slow this year so going forward we needed Chris and Joe to step up and they did tonight.”
After two losses to start the season, a win on the road at Roy G. Finn Gymnasium against a good Malden team is just what the Tanners (1-2) needed.
“This is a game we really needed to win tonight,” Broughton said. “We had been struggling out of the gate. I’m really happy for the kids.”
It was an all around effort for Peabody, with junior guards Joangel Lugo (10 points, seven rebounds and three steals) and Kyle Morfis (10 points) also having standout performances.
The Tanners started the game from behind when Malden jumped out to an early 8-4 lead. Peabody bounced back, eventually getting out to a 15-12 lead after one.
Both teams went back and forth in the second quarter, but thanks to some clutch shooting by Canela and Lugo the Tanners were able to take a 35-30 lead into the half.
Peabody dominated every aspect of the game in the third quarter. A defensive unit led by senior forward Mike Tansey held the Golden Tornados to just three points, while O’Neill led the Tanners with 10 points in the third.
Despite the great quarter and a 23-point lead, Peabody took a huge blow when Tansey was injured on a collision with a Malden player before the fourth.
“Mike Tansey was playing unbelievable until he got hurt,” Broughton added. “When he got hurt and came out that’s when Malden made a run. Tansey is our glue guy, our guy that we really look to, so it hurt us not having him. The other guys stepped up when we needed it.”
The Golden Tornados slowly chipped away at the Peabody lead, led by a great shooting performance by junior Cameron Lloyd (17 points), and eventually tied the game at 64-64 with a minute left.
After being fouled on the next play, O’Neill came through at the free throw line and hit both shots, but Lloyd answered with a layup on the next Malden possession to tie the game a 66-66.
O’Neill had a shot blocked on the next Tanners’ possession, but the play set up the inbound pass and the game-winner by Canela.
“I just can’t give enough credit to Malden,” Broughton said. “They made an unbelievable run to end the game and it was really just a great high school game by both teams.”
Peabody will be back on the court next Thursday when it hosts Masconomet.
“Sometimes you are just looking for something to get the team going,” Broughton said. “Hopefully the win tonight on the road against a very good Malden team that is very well coach can propel us a little bit in the future.”