Down two, in a knock-down-drag-out brawl of a basketball game, no. 5-ranked Oakland (22-4) had 16 seconds to find a way to tie or go ahead of no. 1-ranked Mott. With both teams tied atop the MCCAA Eastern Conference, a victory would most likely mean the conference championship and a chance to play in the state championship game. Oakland had two contested looks for the victory, but neither even scared the basket.
Mott survived, 60-58.
Ten minutes earlier I would have bet $1,000 that Mott wouldn’t need a final stop to win the game. The Bears never trailed in the game, were up seven at the half and led by as many as 13 in the second half. With two minutes to go, Mott led by seven. In the final 60 seconds, Oakland scored five points without Mott getting the ball across halfcourt (Anthony Welch 3-pointer and a steal and putback by Aaron Hayes).
Then another turnover set up the final 16 seconds.
Lost amid the drama was a lock-down, unflinching defensive stand by the Bears. Both of Oakland’s attempts looked like desperation shots because of the stifling pressure. In spite of the ugliness of the final two minutes, that was a championship effort from a championship team. Now Mott must win its final two games (Kirtland and Schoolcraft) to close out a rec0rd-setting regular season.
The Bears (26-1) have now won 13 straight games and have sat atop the national poll for 12 consecutive weeks.
Mott was led by freshman Ralph Eason, who appeared to be plugged in to another energy source tonight that no one else had access to. He went about as hard as I’ve seen any player go. Eason finished with 19 points on 10 shots with three assists, three rebounds and three steals. He was all over the court and played almost the entire game.
Mott’s leading scorer, John Taylor, was held under his average by the Raiders. He had 19 points, but give credit to Oakland for never letting him out of their sight. Freshman sharpshooter Jakob Perry added 13 points and five rebounds.
Walter Davis had his worst offensive performance of the season, but the sophomore forward made up for it with arguably his best defensive performance. He had one point, six blocks and 11 rebounds.
For Oakland, Aaron Hayes and Anthony Welch scored 16 points apiece. The Raiders’ starting forwards both turned in double-doubles: Ugochukwu Njoku (10 points, 14 rebounds) and James Chappell (10 points and 10 rebounds).
Oakland wraps up the regular season with Delta and Macomb.
|9 – Mott||15-1||.938||26-1||.963||—||15-0||11-1||0-0||Won 13|
|9 – Oakland||14-2||.875||22-4||.846||1.0||11-2||10-1||1-1||Lost 1|
|9 – Henry Ford||10-6||.625||18-9||.667||5.0||9-3||5-6||4-0||Won 1|
|St. Clair County||7-9||.438||14-14||.500||8.0||7-7||6-7||1-0||Won 1|
|Wayne County||0-15||.000||2-20||.091||14.5||1-11||1-9||0-0||Lost 16|
|#, 8 – Lansing||13-1||.929||17-11||.607||1.0||7-6||9-3||1-2||Won 6|
|8 – Grand Rapids||11-3||.786||16-8||.667||3.0||7-3||9-5||0-0||Won 1|
|8 – Muskegon||10-4||.714||19-8||.704||4.0||12-4||6-4||1-0||Won 3|
|8 – Jackson||9-5||.643||16-10||.615||5.0||7-4||9-5||0-1||Won 2|
|8 – Glen Oaks||9-5||.643||16-12||.571||5.0||5-6||10-5||1-1||Won 1|
|Kalamazoo Valley||3-11||.214||7-20||.259||11.0||3-8||3-10||1-2||Lost 4|
|Lake Michigan||0-15||.000||6-21||.222||14.5||4-11||2-10||0-0||Lost 16|