FLINT, Michigan — For the second year in a row, the first punch thrown in the Mott-Lansing rivalry was a knockout for the hometown Bears in front of a packed house at the Steve Schmidt Gymnasium. No. 1-ranked Mott Community College held Lansing to 25 percent shooting in the victory, 71-47.
The last time the Bears suited up against the Stars was last winter in the state championship game in Lansing. In that game, just as in this one, it was competitive early and lopsided late.
Like Lansing, Mott struggled from the floor early on before 6-foot-9 freshman Coreante DeBerry gave the Bears a spark with several hard-earned buckets in the post. Reserve guard Chester McFadden and forward Kortez Ross came off the bench to provide to some offense for the team midway through the second half, hitting on a pair of triples to give Mott a comfortable lead, 38-24, heading into the break.
The play of the game happened midway through the first half when Mott freshman Devin Foster hit sophomore forward Fred Mattison with a behind-the-back pass on a fastbreak for a two-handed slam.
The only thing keeping the game even remotely close was Mott’s inability to rebound in the first half. The Stars won the battle on the glass in the half, 17-9. In the second half, however, Mott dominated in all facets of the game. The Bears actually tallied 37 rebounds after the break, doubling Lansing’s total in the half.
Lansing’s shooting woes continued in the second half, hitting on only 7 of 25 shot attempts. Mott forced Lansing into 21 turnovers in the game and contributed to a woeful 5-for-21 from 3-point range.
Former Lansing Waverly standout guard Skylar Moore was the only bright spot, at least offensively, for the Stars. He scored 12 points, but managed zero assists, zero rebounds and five turnovers. Former East Lansing High School two-sport star, Devlin Bell, also gave the Stars solid minutes in the first half, but played only sparingly in the second.
Mott had three players in double-figures led by DeBerry and Mattison. The frontline duo scored 12 points apiece and combined for 17 rebounds. Freshman guard Malik Albert added 10 points and three assists.
The surprise of the night was the play of former Saginaw Buena Vista star George Goodman. A borderline division one prospect in high school, Goodman looked completely lost for Lansing. In high school, he was more of a scorer than a lead guard. Lansing needs him to be a lead guard, and there’s no proof he’s up to it. He wasn’t pushing the ball or attacking the basket like the George Goodman I remember. Partial credit goes to Mott sophomore guard Kory Billups, who defended him for the majority of the game. Goodman finished with four made free throws, one assist and three turnovers in 23 minutes.
I was similarly disappointed with the lack of production of Saginaw High product Travion Babers. He’s tall, athletic and smooth in the open court. He may well be the most naturally talented player on Lansing’s roster, but he’s getting a precious little for it. He finished with three rebounds, two assists and zero points in 20 minutes.
Mott (5-0) will put its 27-game winning streak on the line next Wednesday night on the road at Owens (Ohio), a team coached by former Mott and University of Toledo assistant Dave Clark. Owens, in my opinion, may well be the best team Mott plays in the regular season. The Express are led by two surefire division one talents, Justin Edmonds and James Kelly.