The yearly St. Clair-Mott game at Ballenger Fieldhouse is always interesting because the Skippers, who might as well be dubbed Flint Southeastern because the school has been such a good landing spot for city high school players over the years, always bring a group of local guys back who would love nothing more than to beat Mott in front of their hometown fans.
Unfortunately, I think the fact that St. Clair’s players are always so amped for this game sometimes works against them as well and possibly caused some of their players to have poor shooting performances. St. Clair came out in the first half with great energy, holding a small lead for about five minutes and staying close the whole way, but Mott pulled away in the second half and won 82-54.
St. Clair only shot 26 percent for the game, including 23 percent in the second half. In the first half, St. Clair did a good job getting back on defense and preventing Mott’s running game from getting going. In the second half, the Bears got some of their patented run-out dunks and layups off of turnovers.
Mott’s lanky defenders: The game changed defensively for Mott when coach Steve Schmidt started using T.J. Cameron and Burton to defend St. Clair’s primary ball-handlers. I don’t think any team in the state has two perimeter guys who can match the length and quickness on defense of Cameron and Burton. Those guys are extremely disruptive, and when Burton came off the bench, it slowed St. Clair’s offense, which looked good early, tremendously.
A change in styles: St. Clair’s attack looks much different this season with Alan Sharp running the point. Last year’s starter, Kieon Arkwright, was a methodical lead guard, much better in half-court sets. Sharp’s real strength seems to be pushing the ball up-court. He’s really fast in the open court and he takes good care of the ball. He only had one turnover against Mott’s pressure, and when he came out of the game, St. Clair had a noticeably harder time getting into their offense.
The Flint contingent: Two Flint players, Travon Mitchell and T’aron Boose, missed the game for St. Clair, but three others saw action. Sharp, who is averaging 9 points and 5 assists on the season, had an off-game shooting the ball, finishing with 7 points and 2 assists. Chatavius Turner also struggled shooting the ball, but scored six points with two assists. Brandon Thompson was St. Clair’s only player to shoot better than 50 percent, finishing with six points on 3-of-4 shooting.
Muddled standings: Much like last season, four teams in the MCCAA Eastern Conference are separating themselves from the pack. Henry Ford Community College, which lost to Oakland Community College 91-81 Saturday, remains in first place in the conference by half a game at 5-1. Mott, St. Clair and Oakland are now all tied for second in the conference at 4-1. Mott plays at Oakland at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
— Patrick Hayes | Great Lakes Hoops