FLINT, Michigan — With Mott coming off a tough loss against Wayne on Saturday, Wednesday night’s game versus St. Clair loomed large. Just last week, the Skippers played two of the top teams in the state (Oakland and Wayne) tooth and nail, but finished out a hellish stretch in their schedule with a 92-78 loss to no. 9-ranked Mott.
With Mott’s top scorer, Malik Albert, on the bench to start the game (punishment for showing up late to practice), sophomore guard Devin Foster slid over to the driver’s seat and led Mott to a 20-point lead early. Foster scored nine points in the first five minutes and put the Bears in a position to blow out the Skippers.
For more than a 10-minute stretch of the first half, the Bears couldn’t miss. Mott stalled out late in the first half to lead by “only” 15 points at the break in a game that felt like a runaway. Even after snapping the hot streak, the Bears shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the half.
The second half was a tick on the dull side, as Mott (12-3) seemed content to ride out the lead. St. Clair (8-7) made a run late in the half, but failed to cut the deficit to single digits. Mott lapsed a bit defensively in the second half, especially down low. Fortunately for the Bears, they executed well enough on the offensive end to have a comfortable lead throughout the game.
Mott head coach Steve Schmidt expects to have one of his star players back in the lineup in the very near future, perhaps as early as Saturday against no. 11-ranked Oakland. Freshman swingman Ruston Hayward has been nursing a knee injury for the past several weeks and has been medically cleared to play.
Foster looked the part of a division one guard, finishing with 20 points (nine shots), eight assists and five rebounds. It was arguably his best all-around performance in his career at Mott. His feet on defense leave something to be desired, but his handle and court vision are really impressive. If he continues to improve, he could be an impact player in the backcourt next year for Chicago State.
After sitting for the first four minutes, Albert didn’t waste much time getting involved in the offense. He tallied an assist on his first possession and set about beating defenders to the basket, as normal. He finished with 25 points and three assists. Lorenzo Collier and Marcus Johnson, both freshmen, added 12 points apiece.
St. Clair’s top player, Matt Van Dyk, showed off his impressive inside-outside game, including a baseline slam in the first half. He finished with 20 points and nine rebounds to lead the Skippers. Two former Flint City Series players, Joemar Black and Marques Pool, scored nine and eight points, respectively.
Saturday’s game on the road against Oakland will be the game of the season in the MCCAA. Mott will look to avenge its loss last season on the road against the Raiders. The game tips at 3 p.m.