LAKELAND, FL -- In a long and successful prep career, Malone guard Chai Baker may have saved his best for last. Baker scored 44 points and grabbed 14 points, leading Malone to a 78-61 victory over Hamilton County in the Class 1A State Championship Game.
Playing in his final high school game, the Oregon State signee hit 12-of-22 shots, including three 3-pointers and 17 free throws. He scored 25 of Malone's 31 points in the first half.
It was more of the same after the break, with Baker adding 19 points as the Tigers pulled away to capture the 14th Boys Basketball State Championship in school history.
Malone (20-8) took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Hamilton County 25-12 to build a 13-point lead entering the final period. Free throws were crucial for the Tigers in the second half, as Malone connected on 20-of-28 shots from the charity stripe after the break.
With the win, Malone captured it's first state title since 1998. Antwain Johnson added 19 points for the Tigers.
Kevin McClain led Hamilton County (26-4) with 25 points. Hamilton County fell short in it's bid to capture the first state title in school history.