SITM: Mott's Steve Schmidt chases fifth national title with capable Bears

SITM: Mott's Steve Schmidt chases fifth national title with capable Bears

Mott Bears coach Steve Schmidt has the staff of assistants, star quality in Diandre Wilson and the necessary pieces to make things happen in Danville. "I like this team," said Schmidt, who is interested to see if this year's team can replicate success of past national champions. 

Mott cruises past rival Lansing, gives satisfying win to coach Steve Schmidt

By Adam Biggers

FLINT, Mich. -- With a pair of defensive boards and two blocks, Marcus Cole held down the defensive side when the Mott Bears needed to assert their strength. With a game-high 18 points, he helped revitalize the offense.

Diondre Wilson scored 13 of 18 in the second half. Austin Walker, who also scored 18, hit back-to-back 3s near the 11-minute mark of the second half, adding to Mott's growing lead. 

Sidney Mason put up 18, adding six rebounds and three assists. 

Rob McCalley worked for the tough buckets, finishing with 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds. 

Coach Steve Schmidt earned career win No. 665, and the Bears (7-2) got a little revenge on a longtime rival with a 79-61 victory over the Lansing Stars on Wednesday night at Ballenger Fieldhouse. 

"We held them to 26 points (at the half) -- that's what I like," said Schmidt, an NJCAA hall-of-famer who's headed Mott basketball since 1991. "(Lansing) scored 107 on us, a week ago Monday, and we needed to keep the game in the 70s, if possible. By doing that, we had to control the tempo of the game..."

Despite losing the rebound battle 44-36, the Bears weren't too tight, nor were they too loose in the paint. Inconsistency had been an issue during prior games -- but it wasn't a problem Wednesday night. 

"I thought we were still aggressive. We controlled the tempo. I'm really proud of the effort, especially defensively -- that team has a lot of talent," Schmidt said. "And they have a lot of guys who can score a ton of points. We did a good job of basically taking control of the game."

Cole erased Stars point guard DonQuail Jakson, who scored nine points but failed to register an assist. Isaiah Green scored 15. Claude Finley finished with 12. The rest were held to scraps and crumbs. 

"(Marcus Cole) has always taken the other team's best player -- whether it's a forward or a guard," said Schmidt. "He took the Jackson kid, their point guard, and I thought he contained him. I thought he really contained him and pressured him. He also made some great plays on his own offensively."

The Bears -- who led 33-26 at the break -- committed just seven turnovers and played one of their cleanest, most fundamentally sound, games in some time. Other then the final 30 seconds -- in which the Bears gave up four "sloppy" points -- they were beyond impressive in Schmidt's eyes. 

"Great win. The best one I can remember in this gym. We had a great one last year over Schoolcraft, but this one was sweet -- especially after giving up so many points to them last week," said Schmidt, who grew up in Lansing and lives for the Stars-Bears rivalry series.

"I liked how they played from start to finish. I liked their focus. I liked coaching this team tonight," he continued. "Now we have to make sure we don't take a step backward. They were immature in the past. I want them to act like they expect to do this.

"I know they're young. I know they're 18, 19. We're going through some growing pains, but once we get through this transition, we're going to have a heck of a nice team. I think we can make a run." 

Notes: Lansing shot 5-19 from 3-point range, Mott shot 6-18. Lansing shot 12-20 FT, Mott shot 15-24. 

Total field goals: Lansing 22-65, Mott 29-59