BAY CITY, Michigan — The game JUCO basketball fans have been waiting for all season will take place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Delta College. The two favorites in the MCCAA’s District 10 tournament held up their ends of the bargain on Friday afternoon and now have less than 24 hours to prepare for the championship finale.
Mott (28-3) and the top seed in the tournament, shrugged off a 9-0 run by Henry Ford late in the first half to cruise to a 77-61 win over the Hawks.
Mott led by 14 late in the first half before the Hawks’ nailed a couple more triples cut the lead to five at the break. As a team, the Hawks nailed 7-of 14 3-pointers in the half. Their hot shooting would not continue, however, cooling off to the tune of 2-for-10 in the second half. Mott led by as many as 18 points in the half before burning clock in the game’s final five minutes.
Mott was paced by sophomore Fred Mattison and freshman Malik Albert, who combined to hit 17-of 30 shot attempts. Mattison scored 21 points with nine rebounds and Albert added 20.
Kortez Ross, a late addition to the starting lineup this season, continues to prove his worth. The sophomore from Flint Southwestern scored eight points with five assists and five steals. He’s Mott’s “glue” guy and one of the better defensive players in the MCCAA.
Henry Ford (19-11) was led by Rodrick Butler and Darryl Mobley, Jr. who scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. The Hawks were down to seven players and, under those circumstances, they competed quite well.
After the game, Mott head coach Steve Schmidt said he was happy with the win, but not over the moon for his team’s effort at times during the game.
“It’s disappointing; this is kind how the season has been since February,” Schmidt said. “You can’t just show up thinking that you’re ranked no. 4, that you won the conference … you can’t have that mindset. There’s going to have to be a whole different mindset. We have 24 hours to figure out how to get this team to play with passion. Because the team we’re playing sure seems like they’re playing with passion.”
The team they’re playing, Oakland, is 23-8 despite forfeiting three games after it was reported that an ineligible player had started in three games after an ejection. I get the sense that Oakland feels slighted, so I think it’s fair to say that they are even more dangerous at this point in the season.
The two teams are equally matched, having split their only two meetings this season.
If you can’t make the trip, you can listen to the game live on MRSN.us. The winner will represent District 10 in the national tournament in Danville, Illinois in two weeks.