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Steve Schmidt's team knocked off Macomb on Wednesday night, 71-67. The Bears have now won two straight games after dropping their previous two.

Steve Schmidt’s team knocked off Macomb on Wednesday night, 71-67. The Bears have now won two straight games and should make it three Saturday against Alpena at home.

FLINT, Michigan — The Mott Community Bears returned to old form on Wednesday night, forcing three turnovers in the pivotal final two minutes to beat Macomb, 71-67.

The Bears led by two at the half and returned to the floor determined to pressure the ball. Mott threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the Monarchs in the half, taking advantage of their opponent’s relative weakness in the backcourt. The Bears held Macomb to just 11-for-30 from the field in the half and forced seven turnovers.

Mott head coach Steve Schmidt was encouraged by the defensive effort in the half, but isn’t quite ready to say his team is ready for prime time.

“That was more like Mott has played traditionally,” Schmidt said. “We pressed and gave different looks defensively. That said, we’re still a work in progress … this is our fourth game in eight days, and we’re getting better.”

Mott led by as many as nine points with seven minutes to go in the game before a basket by Macomb’s Elijah Carter cut the Bears’ lead to one with just less than two minutes to go. Mott did not allow the Monarchs to score another point.

After both teams traded turnovers on four consecutive possessions, Mott’s Daryl Bigham got loose in transition, drew a foul, and made both free throws. In the game’s waning seconds, Mott guard Malik Young made one of two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Mott desperately needed to win this game in regulation, as their top two forwards (Bigham and Darryl LeVert) had four fouls apiece and their next man up (Matt Place) had already fouled out. Place, who sets the bar for effort on this team, received quite an ovation after he earned his fifth foul.

“That was the best ovation from fans for a kid who fouled out that I can remember,” Schmidt said.

The veteran coach also complimented Macomb and lauded the parity in the conference this season. There isn’t one great team in the conference, but there really aren’t any scrubs, either.

“I can’t remember a time when so many teams were capable of beating each other any given night,” he said. “Fortunately for us, I don’t think this conference has been won by anybody yet.”

The play of the game came with five minutes left in the second half, when LeVert slammed home a tip-dunk that brought fans to their feet and put the Bears up seven.

Brandon Hicks led Macomb (10-9) with 18 points and six rebounds. Chris Dorsey added 15 points and five rebounds.

Bigham led Mott (13-6) with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Levert, Justice Green and Austin Daniels added 11 points apiece.

Mott will return to action at 3 p.m. Saturday at home versus Alpena. This month, the ‘Jacks have scored wins over Wayne County, Delta, Mid-Michigan and Henry Ford. The game can be heard live on the Michigan Regional Sports Network, at MRSN.us.

Mott freshman Daryl Bigham goes for two against Delta College Saturday afternoon. (Gerry Leslie photo)

Mott freshman Daryl Bigham goes for two against Delta College Saturday afternoon. (Gerry Leslie photo)

FLINT, Michigan — Mott Community College hadn’t lost back-to-back games since 2008. That all changed on Saturday afternoon, as Mott fell to Delta College, 59-55.  The Bears are now 11-6 on the season and on track for the program’s worst season since the Y2K scare.

The program’s long track record of success, unmatched at this level, makes back-to-back losses feel catastrophic. Perhaps fans shouldn’t blow it out of proportion, but this team is quickly becoming forgettable in the grand scheme of all things Mott. This is a program that could count conference home losses over a 10-year period on one hand (the same hand studded with four national championship rings).

I’m starting to think this is the curse of Ralph Eason. The Lions have Bobby Layne, the Red Sox have the Bambino and the Bears have Ralph. The program hasn’t been the same since he ended his career at Mott one year too soon.

There was actually a little positivity in the air prior to Saturday’s opening tip, as Mott finally dressed a full roster for the first time since early November. The Bears’ best guard, freshman Justice Green, returned to the lineup, albeit in a more limited role that he is accustomed to.

The Bears dressed 11 players including reserve forward Andrew Miller, who made his first appearance in the gold and black. It was all for not, however, as Delta appeared to be the better team throughout the contest, sustaining a late 10-2 run by the Bears, and holding on for the win.

“We had a full roster, but it hurt our chemistry,” Mott head coach Steve Schmidt told MRSN Radio after the game. “We’re going to continue to battle, because that’s what we do.”

This game was another example of something that has happened far too often in the last couple seasons: the team playing “Mott basketball” wasn’t Mott. Delta was more aggressive, played with more intensity and was much more physical.

Delta led almost the entire first half, but the Bears cut their lead to two at the break. Mott actually led by four midway through the second half and then again by one with three minutes left.

The biggest play in the game came with just 25 seconds left and the game knotted at 55. Delta’s Markell Bradshaw hoisted up a desperation 3-pointer as the shot clock expired that hit nothing but net. That sealed it for the Pioneers, who improved to 11-9 on the season. Bradshaw and Julian Henderson led Delta with 18 points apiece.

The only brights spots for Mott were forwards Daryl Bigham and Rod Milton. The pair combined for 31 points and 16 rebounds. Malik Young added 11 including three triples. As a team, the Bears shot a paltry 39 percent from the field.

There are too many games left on the schedule to completely write off this season. That said, we know enough about this team to temper our expectations. This is not a championship-caliber team, and certainly not one to intimidate even a middle-of-the-road opponent.

After the game, Schmidt said there’s no quit in the Mott Bears. One problem: these are not the Mott Bears of old. There’s plenty of quit in this team. There’s also a precious little care for the outcome of the game, something one cannot help but notice. If your fans care more than your players, there’s a big problem.

Four of Mott’s next five game are against teams with .500 or better records. Now would be a really good time to show the rest of the conference you belong.

The Bears have a quick turnaround before Monday night’s game on the road against St. Clair.

For better or worse, Saturday Steve Schmidt will turn in his final draft. Mott’s head coach told MRSN radio after Wednesday night’s 67-60 loss to Schoolcraft that Mott’s game versus Delta on Saturday will finally bring to a close a season full of uncertainty. The drafts, to this point, have been rough. Very rough.

“The next time you see this team, you’ll see what our team will be from here on out,” Schmidt said.

This, with little doubt, will go down as the veteran coach’s most physically and emotionally draining season of his distinguished caeer. Fortunately, there’s still time to turn it around.

Mott started the season with only 11 players and, due to issues off the court and in the classroom, have dressed between seven and nine players most nights. That’s about to change.

The Bears will add former Davison (MI) High School standout forward Andrew Miller to the roster this week and may round out the roster with a member of the school’s baseball team. The 6-foot-6 Miller scored double figures in 15 of his 21 games with the Cardinals as a senior.

Schmidt added that he hopes his star point guard, Justice Green, will handle his business in the classroom and return to the team this week. The Bears need him desperately if they are going to circle the wagons.

Against Schoolcraft, Mott played a miserable first half. For long stretches, the Bears simply couldn’t buy a basket and trailed by 13 at the half.

A different team came out of the locker room in the second, as the Bears shot 56 percent as a team and actually cut the Ocelets’ lead to four midway through the half. The Bears failed to get stops on a consistent basis in the game’s final minutes and finally succumbed to a better team.

“That’s a really good team, a tough team to play on the road,” Schmidt said. “But we competed. I’m proud of the way our guys competed, especially in the second half.”

The Ocelets (16-3) currently hold the best record in the MCCAA.

Mott (11-5) was led by Daryl Bigham’s 21 points and four rebounds. Darryl LeVert added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bears will return to action at 3 p.m. on Saturday against a Delta squad fresh off a one-point loss against Oakland.

Things didn’t start as planned on Wednesday night for the no. 17-ranked Bears at home. Mott didn’t score a two-point basket until five minutes into the game against longtime rival Henry Ford Community College. Fortunately, by that point, freshman guard Malik Young had already connected on his first three 3-point attempts.

Young was the lone bright spot in the first half as the Bears trailed early, clawed back to lead by one at the break, and clipped the Hawks’ wings in the second half to win, 73-54.

“It was a little ugly there at first,” Schmidt told MRSN radio after the game. “But wins are pretty.”

The Bears (11-4) didn’t wrestle away the led from the hawks until a 3-pointer by sophomore Darryl Levert with a minute left in the half gave Mott their one-point lead.The second half was a bloodbath for Henry Ford. Mott completely demoralized the undermanned Hawks, who came into the game with only five players. Both teams were shorthanded, due to injuries, illnesses and academic shortcomings. Mott dressed eight players, an upgrade from the team’s seven-man outing on Saturday afternoon at Oakland.”It’s a weird thing that’s going on in college athletics right now,” Schmidt said. “There’s no excuse for us to have only eight players; there’s no excuse for them just to have just five. We all have to do better.”

The Bears completely wore down the Hawks in the second half, extending their lead to 14 on a triple by Tommie Johnson just nine minutes into the half. Six minutes later, the Bears led by 23 after a basket in the lane by freshman Rod Milton.

The win Wednesday night was just what the doctor ordered, as the Bears now have a week to get healthy for the showdown versus Schoolcraft College. The Ocelets currently have the best overall record in the league at 13-3. There’s a great deal of parity in the league this year, so don’t count out the Bears just yet.

“Coming off a tough loss, we needed a win,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to bounce back and start playing Mott basketball.”

Daryl Bigham once again led Mott (11-4) in scoring with 21 points. Milton added 16.

The game versus Schoolcraft will be on the road next Wednesday night.

You can listen to the game live on MRSN.us starting at 7:30 p.m.

Hopes were high as Mott returned to action on Saturday afternoon against rival Oakland with the team’s best forward, Daryl Bigham, back in the lineup. The freshman from Detroit missed the last two games (both wins) after getting suspended for committing a flagrant foul in an overtime loss to Owens last month.

With a full roster, the Bears were primed to make another statement against one of the top teams in the MCCAA. As it turned out, it was another disappointing turn of events as Oakland knocked off Mott, 81-73. The loss is the Bears’ first of the conference season.

The Bears played the game without their top guard, freshman Justice Green and freshman forward Tommie Johnson. Mott’s remaining guards, Malik Young and Austin Daniels, drew two fouls apiece in the half and the third, Ray Ray Lewis, was injured. Even so, Mott trailed by only three at the half after a less-than-stellar 20 minutes for either team.

Lewis managed to return early in the second half after Daniels drew his third foul, but the damage was done. The Bears trailed by 13 and head coach Steve Schmidt simply didn’t have the troops to forge a comeback. Oakland went on a 21-9 run to start the second and led by as many as 16 in the half.

The Bears didn’t thrown in the towel, however; they made a run late in the half. A jumper by Lewis inside of six minutes left in the game cut Oakland’s lead to eight. Mott cut the lead to as few as six before Oakland once again rose to the occasion with timely baskets in the paint and second chance points.

After the game, Mott head coach Steve Schmidt told MRSN radio that he was pleased with the effort of most of his players against a good team in a tough environment.

“We showed a lot of heart with only seven guys available today,” he said. “I thought we played our hearts out. It hurts not having a couple kids, but that’s the situation we put ourselves in … we will battle back.”

Mott had a couple notable players struggle in the game. Young did not score in the game. Freshman forward Darryl LeVert scored seven but failed to score in the second half.

Bigham led all scorers with 32 points and 15 rebounds in his return to the team. Small forward Rod Milton added 20.

The status of Green and Johnson is still up in the air, but obviously Mott needs them back as soon as possible to stay in the hunt for the conference championship.

Mott returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at home versus Henry Ford CC. The rematch with Oakland comes Saturday, February 7 at Ballenger Fieldhouse.

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.