Ohio State Four-Star Basketball Signer Malaki Branham leads Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to a 72-50 win over Columbus St. Francis DeSales in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division II State Championship at the University of Dayton Arena on Sunday night.
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound Branham — who was considered the sixth-best shooter and 29th prospect in the class of 2021 — scored a game-high 37 points, the most of any player in the state championship game . from the old Buckeye Jon Diebler scored 48 points in Upper Sandusky’s two-point loss to Dayton Dunbar in 2007. He also added four rebounds, three assists and a block for the Fighting Irish, who won their ninth overall state title and the eighth since 2000.
Saint-Vincent-St. Mary trailed as much as 13 points in the second quarter but used a 17-1 halftime run to regain the lead. Branham scored 16 points in the deciding third quarter, including eight straight in the aforementioned run with a layup, transition dunk, pull-up jumper and two free throws, to put the Fighting Irish on the rise of 12 before the fourth.
“16 minutes from the end, I was not trying to lose” Branham told the Akron Beacon Journal after the game. “I was just trying to give it my all. I told my teammates before we walked on the pitch that it’s the last 16 minutes and we will play together again, so let’s go out, have fun and try to win.”
Branham, who averaged 22 points, five rebounds and three assists per game this season, finished the game with an effective 15 of 21 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. He finished his high school career with state titles, such as St. Vincent-St. Mary also won it all in her debut season in 2018.