FLINT, Michigan — Certainly most Mott fans expected the Bears to bounce back after their 17-game winning streak was snapped against Wayne County Saturday. An 88-65 win over a very solid St. Clair squad was probably more bounce than anyone could have expected, however.
Mott (23-2) traded the lead with St. Clair five times in the first half, led by five at the break and blew the game open in the second half. The victory came relatively easy in the second half, especially considering how tough the Skippers played Mott just last month.
Sophomore Kory Billups turned in arguably his best performance of the year against the Skippers, scoring 22 points on only 12 shots with six rebounds. Billups was hot early and maintained that pace. It was Billups who broke the game open with an incredible basket and foul in the lane. Once the Bears had pushed the lead into double-figures, the Skippers never got closer than 12 points.
The play of the game came early in the second half when freshman guard Malik Albert scored his only basket of the game — an absolutely unreal tip-dunk from the left baseline. Albert floats like few players I’ve ever seen.
Even though the final score didn’t come near resembling their first matchup, St. Clair’s Johnnie Mills once again turned in an impressive offensive performance. The sophomore from east Detroit scored a game-high 24 points.
The Mattison cousins, Fred and Chavis, combined for 30 points and 24 rebounds for Mott. Freshman Devin Foster, newly re-inserted into the starting lineup, added 13 points.
Mott has a couple days to prepare for the most important game of the season thus far against Oakland on the road Saturday. The Raiders are 12-1 in conference after surviving a scare against St. Clair on Saturday. The game tips at 3 p.m.
– Kory Billups is a bit of a basketball tease. He has been a solid all-around player for the last two seasons at Mott, but about every fourth or fifth game he plays like a kid who could average 20 points per game in this league. He’s not overly athletic, but he’s extremely versatile and understands how to use his body to free himself for open shots in the paint. He also possesses a reliable mid-range shot.
– Mott freshman Coreontae DeBerry didn’t start but was inserted into the lineup early in the game after Fred Mattison missed a couple shots from close range. DeBerry, unfortunately, got caught in poor defensive positions and sat most of the game with foul trouble. He finished with six points and three rebounds.
– St. Clair sophomore Austin Shell impressed me for the second time this season. He’s 6-6 with some upper body strength and quick bounce. He was a workhorse for the Skippers tonight. He scored 17 points with 12 rebounds. He also mixed in a couple dunks. His teammate, Mills, could learn a thing or two from him about playing hard on both ends. Mills is not what I would call a point guard, but he’s uber-athletic and can get to the basketball basically at will. If he had half a mind to be a point guard, he’d be a total stud. As it is, he’s an undersized two guard.
– Mott freshman Chester McFadden continues to improve. The 6-3 guard only scored 3 points, but made up for his lack of scoring with six assists and a couple hustle plays on defense. McFadden is the type of player who just needs minutes. He’s a much better player than he has shown so far this season.
– This was probably the longest blowout game I’ve ever watched. The two teams combined to shoot 70 free throws. Fortunately Mott made an impressive 28-for-32 from the stripe.