FLINT, Michigan — Rod Milton picked a great time to turn in his best performance of the season. The Mott Community College Bears (7-2), still smarting over a tough loss on the road Wednesday night to archrival Lansing, leaned heavily on Milton and pulled out a victory over Lakeland, 82-75.
Milton, a high-flying freshman forward, led Mott with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He was instrumental in leading the Bears to a 17-point lead early in the second half. As it turned out, the Bears needed the extra cushion against the resilient Lakers.
Midway through the second half, Lakeland (5-3) embarked on a 14-2 to bring the game back into striking distance. The Bears’ lead was cut to just five before Milton and freshman Tommie Johnson sparked an 8-2 run to put Mott back up double digits.
The Bears played most of the game without 6-7 sophomore Darryl LeVert, who drew his third foul just 10 minutes into the first half and his fourth with just seven minutes gone by in the second. He finished with just two points.
Mott’s point guard Justice Green hit some crucial free throws down the stretch to keep the Lakers at bay. Green finished with 11 points, three rebounds, six assists and six steals. Three other Bears added 11 points apiece: Johnson, Malik Young and Daryl Bigham.
Mott actually shot its way out of Lakeland’s zone early in the game, and didn’t have many issues breaking their press throughtut the game. The Bears weren’t in lockdown mode defensively, but they made enough plays on that end of the floor to hold on. The last time the Bears played Lakeland was in the semifinals of the national tournament back in 2012. The Bears won that game by nine and went on to finish the season with a 35-1 record and a national championship.
Mott head coach Steve Schmidt only dressed eight players in the game, for the second time this season. Mott was without freshmen Tez Thomas, Joe Stamps and Ray Ray Lewis. The playing status of those players will be updated in the coming days.
Coach Schmidt penned an open letter to fans in Saturday’s game program, thanking them for their support through what has been a very difficult season.
“As you have watched this season progress,” the letter read, “I am sure you have noticed the changes in our roster from game to game. We have all new players this season, and with that expected some growing pains. The one thing I have stressed throughout my career is accountability on and off the court. We want our players to be successful in the classroom, and work toward earning a degree. We are not going to change.”
Schmidt freely admits that this season, even at this early juncture, has been among the most trying of his long career.
Mott still has two games left in its brutal December schedule. The Bears will play a strong Kalamazoo Valley squad on the road Wednesday night before finishing out the calendar year on December 30 versus Owens.
|Henry Ford||0-0||.000||5-3||.625||—||3-0||2-2||0-1||Won 3|
|St. Clair County||0-0||.000||6-4||.600||—||4-2||2-1||0-1||Lost 1|
|Wayne County||0-0||.000||4-4||.500||—||1-1||2-2||1-1||Won 1|
|Grand Rapids||0-0||.000||6-2||.750||—||4-0||2-2||0-0||Won 1|
|Lake Michigan||0-0||.000||8-3||.727||—||3-3||5-0||0-0||Won 1|
|Glen Oaks||0-0||.000||5-2||.714||—||5-0||0-2||0-0||Won 1|
|Kalamazoo Valley||0-0||.000||5-7||.417||—||2-3||2-2||1-2||Won 1|