FLINT, Michigan – For a few fleeting moments Wednesday night, an old storyline seemed to be playing out just as it had back in 2009: Former Bear leads new team to upset win over Mott.
Only this time it didn’t go down like that.
Fortunately for no. 12-ranked Mott, the Bears spiked that old headline in the final four minutes to get the win over formerly unbeaten Oakland, 81-77.
Eight years ago a shooting guard out of Detroit named Willie Mustin, who transferred to Henry Ford after riding the bench at Mott as a freshman, led his new team to a huge upset over Mott on that same floor. Fast forward to 2017 and it was former Bear Malik Young’s chance. Young, a Flint Southwestern product, played for Steve Schmidt’s Bears during the 2014-15 season before transferring to Oakland.
Young caught fire in the second half, scoring at will from long (long, long) range. He scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in less than three minutes midway through the second half. He almost singlehandedly pulled the Raiders out of a 10-point second half deficit.
Mott (12-2) built upon its five-point halftime lead early in the second but struggled to take care of the ball for long stretches. The Raiders (13-1) actually led by three with six minutes left. From that point, there were seven lead changes and a handful of ties before a 3-pointer from the right corner by freshman Shawn Pardee put the Bears up four with less than two minutes to play. Pardee, the former Millington standout, led Mott with 20 points on only 10 shots.
Oakland couldn’t get Young free for any open shots from that point and Mott held on for the win.
Setting aside Mott’s 17 turnovers, there’s a lot to build upon after this win. The Bears survived the final ten minutes of the game with their top player (and leading scorer) Diandre Wilson hobbled with a hamstring injury. Wilson finished with 19 points but was rendered ineffective late with the injury. Schmidt will have to monitor his injury closely as the Bears are set to take on Henry Ford at 3 p.m. Saturday in Flint.
The Bears are now riding an eight-game winning streak of their own as they enter the meat of their conference schedule. After Saturday’s tilt versus Henry Ford, the Bears will have another big test on Wednesday night at Schoolcraft.
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- Malik Young has clearly worked hard on his perimeter game. In high school, and at Mott, he was more of a slasher and pull-up shooter. Tonight, he hit several 3-pointers from John Taylor range. That said, Mott actually did a pretty good job on him save for that three-minute span mentioned above. Young shot 8-for-22 from the field and had three of his shots blocked.
- Mott freshman Marcus Cole, a lanky small forward from Chicago, threw down one of the nastiest dunks I’ve seen at Mott since the Doug Anderson era. As soon as I get the video, I will post it. This kid has oodles of potential as an inside-outside scorer. Cole had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
- Mott played this game without the services of point guard Dedrick Shannon, who is no longer with the team. Shannon led the team in assists this season (and started a few games), so Mott will have to lean more on three freshmen: Pardee, Darwin Weis and Austin Walker. Pardee is a lot better than I think he gets credit for. He has an impressive all-around game, and is a sneaky good athlete.
- Former Goodrich and Beecher standout Frank Green scored 10 points for the Raiders. A power guard in high school, Green has had a pretty strong freshman season for Oakland (14 points per game). Against Mott, Green scored 10 points with a pair of assists.
- Wednesday night felt like old times for Mott, as basketball fans in Flint came out in force. If the Bears keep on winning, I expect the crowds will continue to find their way to Ballenger.