Last month I wrote that, if Mott made it through its brutal December schedule with a record of 4-2, it would be a job well done. After Wednesday’s night 62-55 road win over Kalamazoo Valley, the Bears are just a home victory over Owens away from meeting the mark.

The Bears (8-2) led KVCC (5-8) by two at the half and held on for the win. Don’t let KVCC’s record fool you. This team’s schedule was front-loaded with high-end competition against big programs. KVCC has scored wins over Wayne County and St. Clair this season. This team has talent and always presents a challenge at their place.

The Bears were led by freshman Justice Green, who scored 23 points with a season-high eight steals.

Mott played the game without the services of Darryl Bigham, Amariontez Ivory-Thomas and Joseph Stamps. Head coach Steve Schmidt is still trying to separate the men from the boys on this squad, so fans will probably continue to see movement with the roster from game to game.

Mott will look for revenge on Dec. 30 at home versus Owens. The Bears lost to the Express on the road earlier this month in double overtime.

Mott freshman Rod Milton

Mott freshman Rod Milton

FLINT, Michigan — Rod Milton picked a great time to turn in his best performance of the season. The Mott Community College Bears (7-2), still smarting over a tough loss on the road Wednesday night to archrival Lansing, leaned heavily on Milton and pulled out a victory over Lakeland, 82-75.

Milton, a high-flying freshman forward, led Mott with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He was instrumental in leading the Bears to a 17-point lead early in the second half. As it turned out, the Bears needed the extra cushion against the resilient Lakers.

Midway through the second half, Lakeland (5-3) embarked on a 14-2 to bring the game back into striking distance. The Bears’ lead was cut to just five before Milton and freshman Tommie Johnson sparked an 8-2 run to put Mott back up double digits.

The Bears played most of the game without 6-7 sophomore Darryl LeVert, who drew his third foul just 10 minutes into the first half and his fourth with just seven minutes gone by in the second. He finished with just two points.

Mott’s point guard Justice Green hit some crucial free throws down the stretch to keep the Lakers at bay. Green finished with 11 points, three rebounds, six assists and six steals. Three other Bears added 11 points apiece: Johnson, Malik Young and Daryl Bigham.

Mott actually shot its way out of Lakeland’s zone early in the game, and didn’t have many issues breaking their press throughtut the game. The Bears weren’t in lockdown mode defensively, but they made enough plays on that end of the floor to hold on. The last time the Bears played Lakeland was in the semifinals of the national tournament back in 2012. The Bears won that game by nine and went on to finish the season with a 35-1 record and a national championship.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt only dressed eight players in the game, for the second time this season. Mott was without freshmen Tez Thomas, Joe Stamps and Ray Ray Lewis. The playing status of those players will be updated in the coming days.

Coach Schmidt penned an open letter to fans in Saturday’s game program, thanking them for their support through what has been a very difficult season.

“As you have watched this season progress,” the letter read, “I am sure you have noticed the changes in our roster from game to game. We have all new players this season, and with that expected some growing pains. The one thing I have stressed throughout my career is accountability on and off the court. We want our players to be successful in the classroom, and work toward earning a degree. We are not going to change.”

Schmidt freely admits that this season, even at this early juncture, has been among the most trying of his long career.

Mott still has two games left in its brutal December schedule. The Bears will play a strong Kalamazoo Valley squad on the road Wednesday night before finishing out the calendar year on December 30 versus Owens.

MCCAA Standings

Eastern Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
Schoolcraft 0-0 .000 9-2 .818 5-1 4-0 0-1 Won 2
Mott 0-0 .000 7-2 .778 7-0 0-2 0-0 Won 1
Oakland 0-0 .000 5-2 .714 2-0 1-0 2-2 Won 1
Henry Ford 0-0 .000 5-3 .625 3-0 2-2 0-1 Won 3
Macomb 0-0 .000 6-4 .600 4-1 1-1 1-2 Lost 1
St. Clair County 0-0 .000 6-4 .600 4-2 2-1 0-1 Lost 1
Delta 0-0 .000 6-5 .545 3-3 3-2 0-0 Lost 2
Wayne County 0-0 .000 4-4 .500 1-1 2-2 1-1 Won 1
Alpena 0-0 .000 2-3 .400 0-0 1-1 1-2 Won 1
Western Conference
School MCCAA Overall GB Home Away Neutral Streak
Muskegon 0-0 .000 8-2 .800 3-0 4-2 1-0 Won 4
Grand Rapids 0-0 .000 6-2 .750 4-0 2-2 0-0 Won 1
Lake Michigan 0-0 .000 8-3 .727 3-3 5-0 0-0 Won 1
Glen Oaks 0-0 .000 5-2 .714 5-0 0-2 0-0 Won 1
Ancilla 0-0 .000 7-4 .636 6-1 1-2 0-1 Won 1
Lansing 0-0 .000 5-4 .556 4-1 1-3 0-0 Won 3
Jackson 0-0 .000 5-5 .500 4-1 1-4 0-0 Won 1
Kalamazoo Valley 0-0 .000 5-7 .417 2-3 2-2 1-2 Won 1
Kellogg 0-0 .000 3-6 .333 0-0 1-5 2-1 Won 1

No. 5-ranked Mott soars over Columbus State, 83-76

Posted: December 6, 2014 by Jared Field in High School
Mott freshman Rod Milton soars for a rebound over Columbus States Travon Hester. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Mott freshman Rod Milton soars for a rebound over Columbus States Travon Hester. (Gerry Leslie photo)

After suffering his first loss of the season on Wednesday night in double overtime on the road against Owens, Steve Schmidt’s team got one back against the state of Ohio. Unlike on Wednesday night, Schmidt had most of his roster prepped and ready to go against Columbus State (4-4).

The Bears, minus only starting guard Joseph Stamps, knocked off Columbus State, 83-76.

Mott (6-1) led by five at the half and actually trailed by one at the 13-minute mark of the second half. Things started to look even more dire for the Bears when, less than a minute later, 6-7 forward Darryl LeVert was whistled for his fourth foul. This could have been the turning point for Columbus State but, as it turned out, it was Mott’s time to make a statement.

From that point, the Bears embarked on 9-0 run highlighted by a dunk in transition from freshman Daryl Bigham and some timely scoring from freshman Tez Thomas. The former Flint Beecher standout scored 11 points of his 14 points in three minutes to extend Mott’s lead to 10 with eight minutes left. The Bears led by as many as 16 in the half, and held off a late charge by Columbus State to earn the victory.

Bigham led Mott with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman small forward Tommie Johnson added 17 including three triples.

Columbus State’s Matthew Rhodes led all scorers with 23 points on 10-for-15 from the field.

Mott’s brutal December schedule continues on Wednesday night when they travel to Lansing to take on the Stars at 7:30 p.m.

Game Notes

• This may have been Mott’s best all-around effort on both ends of the floor (I’m purposely forgetting the final three minutes of the game). The Bears were active on the glass, took care of the ball and got after loose balls like I haven’t seen all season.

• Saturday’s performance by Daryl Bigham is one that could be replicated on a regular basis. Bigham is a tremendous athlete with good hands, a solid frame and a desire to play around the rim. If he brings it like that every game, Mott’s frontcourt will be a major upgrade over last season.

• I could probably give Mott fans five or six guesses and not get a right answer to this question: Who do you think played the most minutes for the Bears on Saturday? You (didn’t) guess it. It was walk-on forward Matt Place (Lapeer, MI). Place actually started this game and played all but five minutes. Place sets the bar for effort and, at Mott, that will get you big minutes.

Mott Community College had just ascended into the top five in the latest NJCAA poll this week. The Bears were undefeated heading into the meat of their schedule and starting to get their sea legs.

That all changed on Wednesday night, when Coach Steve Schmidt did not allow three starters to make the trip to no. 12-ranked Owens (Ohio). Rod Milton, Daryl Bigham and Joseph Stamps were all held out of Mott’s 84-79 loss to Owens in double overtime. Mott started the game with eight players, finished with five and fell short.

The trio violated team rules off the court and, ultimately, cost their team a win over a good program.

Schmidt was not happy after the game, expressing disappointment not just in his team’s play Wednesday night but also in their lack of commitment.

“I guess I’m a different coach,” he said. “If you don’t understand what it means to be a part of this program, what a privilege it is, you won’t play here.”

The Bears actually held Owens to under 35 percent shooting from the field for the game, but could not keep the Express off the charity stripe. All told, Owens attempted 44 free throws to Mott’s 14. Even so, there were 11 ties and four lead changes in the game that was tight throughout.

Mott (5-1) was led by forward Darryl LeVert, who scored 17 points with 11 rebounds. Justice Green and Austin Daniels added 16 and 14 points, respectively. As a team, the Bears shot an abysmal 2-for-17 from 3-point range.

Owens (8-2) had four players in double figures led by Darren Groves, who scored 21 points with 15 rebounds.

It doesn’t get any easier for Mott, as the Bears welcome Columbus State (Ohio) into the Steve Schmidt Gymnasium at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Columbus State (4-2) has averaged 86 points per game this season.

Mott freshman Rod Milton scored two of his 15 points on Friday night in a win over Sinclair. (Mike Tews photo)

Mott freshman Rod Milton scored two of his 15 points on Friday night in a win over Sinclair. (Mike Tews photo)

It was a Black Friday Buccaneer Bonanza in Flint Friday night. Two former Flint Beecher Bucs, Tez Thomas and Tommie Johnson, led the Mott Community College Bears to an 80-68 win over Sinclair (Ohio).  The pair connected on five triples in the game, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Mott led by as many as 19 midway through the second half on a Thomas basket in the lane. From there, the Bears weathered a couple flurries from Sinclair late, and cruised to victory in front of another large home crowd.

As has become a habit early in the season, Friday night was a total team effort for Mott. All but one player on Mott’s roster scored in the game. Freshman forward Rod Milton led the team with 15 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore Darryl LeVert added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt made wholesale changes throughout the game, subbing out five for five to start both halves. Nine players played 15 or more minutes for the Bears.

The Bears led by a mere seven points at the half, a deficit that Sinclair head coach Jeff Price considered a moral victory against a program that has had their number for years. Sinclair, now 4-4,

makes up for what it lacks in talent with resilience. Even so, Sinclair failed to box out on too many Mott misses leading to second chance points for the Bears. Mott won the rebounding battle 38-26, with Milton and LeVert leading the way.

Manny Powell, Jr. led all scorers with 19 points.

One major bright spot for Mott was the play of reserve guard Austin Daniels. The freshman logged 18 minutes and dished out seven assists with only one turnover. If he continues to defend and take care of the ball, he’ll play a lot of minutes on this team. The Bears don’t need him to score.

The Bears are now 5-0 on the season and prepping for a brutal schedule in December. The Bears will square off against Owens twice, Lansing and Kalamazoo Valley on the road, and two home games versus Columbus State and Lakeland. If the Bears can make it through this stretch no worse than 4-2, it will be a great month heading into conference play.

Next up is Owens on Wednesday night in Toledo. The Express, coached by former Mott assistant Dave Clarke, are 7-2 on the season.

Mott is currently ranked no. 16, but should move up several spots when the next poll is released by the NJCAA.

Mott freshman Malik Young scores at the buzzer to lift Mott to a win over Lansing, 83-81.

Mott freshman Malik Young scores at the buzzer to lift Mott to a win over Lansing, 83-81. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Almost one year ago to the day, Mott Community College went toe-to-toe with rival Lansing at their place. Mott missed a pair of free throws with the game tied, gave the ball back to Lansing and lived to regret it. Devlin Bell’s rebound and putback at the buzzer gave Lansing the victory, 83-81.

Fast forward one year and one day, Mott was up one in the game’s final two seconds — this time in Flint. Lansing split from the stripe to tie the game at 81. That set the stage for the heroics of freshman guard Malik Young. After Darryl LeVert cleared the rebound, Young caught the ball and free-wheeled for about eight seconds before driving left and hitting a runner as the buzzer sounded. Another game, another 83-81 thriller. It was the culmination of a second half resurgence by the Bears highlighted by a pivotal three-pointer from freshman guard Amariontez Ivory-Thomas.

Mott fell behind by as many as 10 points in the second half after trailing by six points at the half. The Bears’ superior depth proved to be the difference maker.

Every player on Mott’s 11-man roster scored at least four points. Freshman guard Joseph Stamps led Mott (4-0) with 15 points and three assists. Young and Ivory-Thomas added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Lansing (2-3), by contrast, is top heavy. The team’s starters were responsible for 68 of the team’s 81 points. Javon Haines led all scorers with 20 points and eight rebounds. Tracy Edmond added 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt will never be disappointed in a win over Lansing. That said, Mott certainly has more to offer their hall of fame head coach on both ends of the floor. The Bears shot 39 percent from the floor and a paltry 20 percent from three-point range in the game.

On the defensive end, the Bears surrendered 45 points in the first half and put the Stars on the foul line 42 times. That said, getting a win over a quality opponent without the ‘A’ game is reassuring. The smart money is on this team continuing to improve and, by the end of the year, being one of the top teams in the country at this level. Bear in mind this is a team without a single returning player from last season.

Mott returns to action on Black Friday at home against Sinclair. The game tips at 7 p.m.

Mott Community College blows out Northwood JV, 92-50

Posted: November 12, 2014 by Jared Field in High School
Mott freshman Justice Green soars for two in the second half against Northwood Wednesday night.

Mott freshman Justice Green soars for two in the second half against Northwood Wednesday night.

If any coach could come away angry from a totally lopsided victory, it’s Steve Schmidt. Mott’s Hall of Fame head coach has made a career out of turning good rosters into great teams with intensity and attention to detail. That said, Wednesday night’s game against Northwood’s JV team won’t make his scrapbook.

Mott (3-0) was uninspired on the defensive end against a team that was overmatched at every position. The Bears surrendered twice as many points as warranted and sleepwalked to victory, 92-50.Mott shot a higher percentage from the field (60 percent) than from the foul line (53 percent). The Bears also turned the ball over 21 times. Daryl Bigham and Malik Young, both freshmen, led Mott with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Reserve freshmen Tommie Johnson added 11 points. Northwood JV, coached by former Delta College head coach Lonnie Griffin, shot 33 percent from the field. Billy Ames led Northwood with 11 points. Mott, now 3-0 on the season, has one respectable win over Kalamazoo Valley bookended by wins over JV teams. We will have a better idea of how good this team is when they meet up with Lansing next Friday night at home.