Malden's Malik Perkins is guarded by Hayti's Frankie Burden Jr. [Order this photo]
Malden's Cortez Dobbins prepares to take a shot.
"We talked a little bit about defense," Sokolov said of his halftime speech. "I wasn't worried about offense. I was worried about defense. I told them our 12 and 22 defenses need to be fixed, drew it out and showed them where they were supposed to be at on both defenses. Once we got within 10 points our 22 defense gave us a nice spurt."
Hayti maintained a double-digit lead at 63-53 with 5:10 remaining in regulation.
The Green Wave outscored the Indians 28-14 in the final five minutes of regulation to secure an 81-77 come-from-behind victory against Hayti.
"A lot of things went wrong the second half," Hayti coach Philip Taylor said. "We just couldn't get back in the right flow. This is a tough one, but I'm hoping a loss like this will get us back on the right track. I know we had really good games against Kennett and Caruthersville last week. Sometimes you have to take one like this to get yourself refocused and ready to make a run so I'm hoping that's what this loss will do."
Malden Gunner Jones drives to the basket.
The game was tied 74-74 with 56 seconds left. A field goal by Romello McCoy put the Green Wave on top 76-74 with 29 seconds remaining. Malden tallied its final five points from the free-throw-line.
The Green Wave's Cortez Dobbins tallied 12 of his team-high 19 points in the final eight minutes of play. Malden's Malik Perkins scored 10 of his 17 points in the final period.
"I think after we got close to them their players panicked a little bit," Sokolov said. "The crowd kind of got into it and the guys got really, really excited. Everything fell into place and a lot of steals led to a lot of lay-ups. I think that was the big thing with our 36-point fourth quarter."
Malden shot 15 of 17 from the free-throw-line in the fourth quarter after shooting 4 of 13 from the charity stripe in the first half.
"I also had a conversation about free throws," Sokolov said. "That's actually the first thing I told them at halftime. I was like 'guys it would be a closer game if you make 80 percent of your free throws.' I guess they took that to heart, started concentrating more and knocked them down.
Hayti's Maurion Newbill is guarded by Malden's Edwin Hale near the basket.
Hayti had three players score at least 16 points. Maurion Newbill tallied all of his team-high 25 points after the first quarter for the Indians.
Indians' center Frankie Burden Jr. tallied eight points in the first quarter and nine points in the third quarter on his way to a 17-point total. Hayti's Demetrius Luster scored eight points in the first half and eight points in the second half on his way to a 16-point night.
"We did get away from that," Taylor said of his team's post-play. "Newbill was getting to the hole and getting good shots at the rim, but we still got away from what we needed to do. We knew we had a size advantage inside and we didn't take advantage of our big men inside when we needed to. They went in that little 2-2-1 in the end and we didn't line up right against their press.
"This is three games in a row," Taylor continued. "We had a lead against Kennett, Caruthersville and Malden. They all made a run at us and we've got to get this fixed."
Hayti's Demetrius Luster is guarded by Malden's Dajuan Criglar.
"The guys really did good," Sokolov said. "They were really impatient the first half and after the talk they started settling down into their game and brought the ball up very well. We got the ball out of our half into our offensive half. We were able to move the ball and take it to the hole. We got a lot of fouls called on them because we were aggressive."
Malden won the junior varsity game against Hayti 46-34.
Hayti is back in action Thursday when it hosts Rivercrest, Ark.
Teams are still fighting for positioning in the upcoming Bootheel Conference Tournament which will take place Jan. 28 - Feb. 1 at Malden. Bootheel Conference Tournament seedings are decided by the final regular-season conference records of the participating teams.
Malden (9-8) improves to 3-2 in regular-season Bootheel Conference play with Wednesday's win. Hayti (9-5) finishes Bootheel Conference regular-season play with a 4-2 record. Caruthersville finished Bootheel Conference regular-season play 3-3 when it suffered a 72-65 loss to Hayti Friday night.
Hayti heads to the locker room at halftime with a 41-26 lead.
If Caruthersville and Malden both finish 3-3 and no other conference teams finish 3-3 Caruthersville would hold a head-to-head tiebreaker against Malden for the No. 3 seed.
A more complicated tiebreaking procedure is utilized if more than two teams finish tied in the standings.
South Pemiscot and Portageville entered Wednesday with 1-3 regular-season conference records and can mathematically reach the 3-3 mark in the standings.
Senath-Hornersville is currently 0-4 in the 7-team conference, but has head-to-head games remaining against Portageville and South Pemiscot. It would move ahead of both teams in the standings if it can record back-to-back conference wins.
Kennett is currently 5-0 in regular-season Bootheel Conference play and has already secured the regular-season Bootheel Conference title. It will be the No. 1 seed in the Bootheel Conference Tournament.
Players look on as Malden's Romello McCoy completes a shot. [Order this photo]
HHS 20 21 15 21 - 77
MHS 13 13 19 36 - 81
HAYTI (77) - Kenyatte Brooks 4, Maurion Newbill 25, Kenard Humes 6, Austin Watkins 4, Brandon Burden 2, Demetrius Luster 16, Frankie Burden Jr. 17, Michael Thomas 3. FG 34, FT 6/13, F 25. (3-pointers: Newbill 2, Luster 1. Fouled out: none)
MALDEN (81) - Malik Perkins 17, Dajuan Criglar 4, Kevin Farr 6, Gunner Jones 3, Jeremy Jones 4, Edwin Hale 12, Cortez Dobbins 19, Romello McCoy 16. FG 30, FT 20/32, F 14. (3-pointers: Criglar 1. Fouled out: none)