Leaving Their Mark- A Look Into The Rich History Of The Malone B - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Leaving Their Mark- A Look Into The Rich History Of The Malone Boys Basketball Program

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For the Malone Tigers, last year's memory of their Regional Final loss to Chipley still lingers.

"It was very emotional- everybody was crying," says Junior Chai Baker. Brother Ty agrees.

"When it happened, it took a lot out of me, because I know we worked hard up to that point in that game to go to State."

The Tiger toss up was close until the 4th quarter, when Chipley pulled away for good- winning 73-63 to seal up a spot in Lakeland and an eventual Class 1A State Championship.

"Chipley was probably a little bit tougher then us last year, that's why they won it," says Malone head coach Steven Welch. "They came in here on the road, backs against the wall. We had them down at the half, but they showed some mental toughness and were able to pull that win out."

Falling short isn't a feeling the Malone basketball program is used too. Over the past 60 years, this gym has seen 13 state championship squads, and this year's team understands the legacy that is behind them.

"Everybody that went to Malone mostly played basketball as their sport," says Senior Austin Williams.

"My dad actually won a championship with my coach," says Chai.

"We hear it everyday how our aunties, and uncles played basketball at Malone, and how crazy it is and how bad the legacy is and the tradition is in the gym," says Ty.

"I played with two of our guys dads," says Coach Welch. "When they go home, they hear the same things I'm telling them, it's about Malone basketball around here."

The reminders are all around the gym- from banners hung high to the numerous trophies and plaques adorning a trophy case at the entrance of the gym. The Tigers know what's at stake, and how long it's been since a new banner has been hung.

"Winning a championship is a goal for us," says Chai. "This is what Malone Tigers stand for is winning basketball championships. We're just trying to bring that back this year."

"We hear the whispers, and the kids hear it too," says Coach Welch. "Do we want to be remembered as the team with a bunch of talent who never got one, or are we going to try to fight tooth and nail to assume ourselves as part of this great legacy here?"

Being forever marked in Malone history, and instead of tears of defeat, tears of joy.