DANVILLE, Illinois — Debbie, a staff photographer for the local newspaper in Danville, remembers the first time she ever met Mike Brigham. Mott’s sophomore forward was in high school in Danville and after a big game he spelled it out for her.
“B-R-I-G-H-A-M,” he said. “Learn it; you’ll need it.”
A few years later, Brigham returned to his hometown to once again lead Mott Community College to a big victory, 65-61, over Phoenix College. And she needed it.
For the second straight day, Brigham showed out in front of the home fans. He scored 18 points with 14 rebounds. The performance came on heels of Tuesday’s monster performance in which he poured in 20 points with 16 rebounds and five assists.
“He’s a high-energy player,” said Mott head coach Steve Schmidt, who has taken his team to the final four all seven times he’s been to Danville. “We really feed off the energy he brings.”
Mott, leading by two at the half, came out of the break with an extra sense of urgency. The Bears had an eight-point advantage before a mini-run by Phoenix cut the lead to two. Then it was all Brigham. The 6-6 forward would not be denied. He scored on three consecutive possessions to steal away the momentum.
The game looked to be in hand in the final minute, with Mott leading by 10, before two consecutive 3-pointers by Isaiah Strong cut the lead to four.
After trading free throws, the stage was set for the play of the game. Instead of running clock and waiting for Phoenix to sent someone to the line, Marshawn Norris hit Doug Anderson with an alley-oop from just across half court.
“I guess it didn’t surprise me,” said Phoenix head coach Matt Gordon. “When you have a player who can jump like that, I think it’s a good play.”
Anderson had solid all-around performance, scoring 13 points and nine rebounds. Sam Burton, who could not finish the game after a knee injury kept him out of most of the second half, added 13 points.
With the victory, Schmidt adds to his NJCAA tournament record for winning percentage. He is now 22-3.
Mott will play the winner of the game between Kirkwood and Triton.